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      Graphitic Carbon Nitride (g-C3N4)-Based Photocatalysts for Artificial Photosynthesis and Environmental Remediation: Are We a Step Closer To Achieving Sustainability?

      Chemical Reviews
      American Chemical Society (ACS)

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          As a fascinating conjugated polymer, graphitic carbon nitride (g-C3N4) has become a new research hotspot and drawn broad interdisciplinary attention as a metal-free and visible-light-responsive photocatalyst in the arena of solar energy conversion and environmental remediation. This is due to its appealing electronic band structure, high physicochemical stability, and "earth-abundant" nature. This critical review summarizes a panorama of the latest progress related to the design and construction of pristine g-C3N4 and g-C3N4-based nanocomposites, including (1) nanoarchitecture design of bare g-C3N4, such as hard and soft templating approaches, supramolecular preorganization assembly, exfoliation, and template-free synthesis routes, (2) functionalization of g-C3N4 at an atomic level (elemental doping) and molecular level (copolymerization), and (3) modification of g-C3N4 with well-matched energy levels of another semiconductor or a metal as a cocatalyst to form heterojunction nanostructures. The construction and characteristics of each classification of the heterojunction system will be critically reviewed, namely metal-g-C3N4, semiconductor-g-C3N4, isotype g-C3N4/g-C3N4, graphitic carbon-g-C3N4, conducting polymer-g-C3N4, sensitizer-g-C3N4, and multicomponent heterojunctions. The band structures, electronic properties, optical absorption, and interfacial charge transfer of g-C3N4-based heterostructured nanohybrids will also be theoretically discussed based on the first-principles density functional theory (DFT) calculations to provide insightful outlooks on the charge carrier dynamics. Apart from that, the advancement of the versatile photoredox applications toward artificial photosynthesis (water splitting and photofixation of CO2), environmental decontamination, and bacteria disinfection will be presented in detail. Last but not least, this comprehensive review will conclude with a summary and some invigorating perspectives on the challenges and future directions at the forefront of this research platform. It is anticipated that this review can stimulate a new research doorway to facilitate the next generation of g-C3N4-based photocatalysts with ameliorated performances by harnessing the outstanding structural, electronic, and optical properties for the development of a sustainable future without environmental detriment.

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