Solid amorphous TiO2 mesospheres were synthesized by controlled hydrolysis of Ti-containing precursors. Subsequently, solid TiO2 mesospheres were exploited as scaffolds and subjected to a one-step external template-free hydrothermal treatment, yielding intriguing hollow anatase TiO2 mesospheres. The synthetic protocol was optimized by investigating the effect of buffer reagents and fluoride ions on the formation of hollow TiO2 spheres. The diameter of hollow mesospheres, ranging from 308 to 760 nm, can be readily tailored by varying the precursor concentration. The average thickness of a shell composed of TiO2 nanocrystals was approximately 40 nm with a mean crystal size of 12.4-20.0 nm. Such hollow TiO2 mesospheres possessed a large surface area and were employed in photocatalytic degradation of methylene blue under UV irradiation. Interestingly, the synthetic conditions were found to exert a significant influence on the photocatalytic ability of hollow TiO2 mesospheres. The correlation between the degradation ability of hollow TiO2 mesospheres and the precursor concentration as well as the hydrothermal time was scrutinized. The optimal photocatalytic performance of hollow TiO2 mesospheres was identified.
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