Enhanced heterogenous photo-Fenton degradation of tetracycline in aqueous medium by visible light responsive sulphur dopped zinc ferrite nanoparticles

Muhammad Usman, Adeel Ahmed, Zhijian Ji, Bing Yu, Muhammad Rafiq, Youqing Shen, Hailin Cong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Tetracycline (TC) is a common antibiotic that is eco-toxic and readily develops bacterial resistance, so it must be removed from the water system. Herein, first-time non-metal (Sulphur) dopped Zinc Ferrite (S-ZnFe2O4) was prepared through a single-step calcining process to study the tetracycline removal performance from water. The effects of catalyst dose, initial pH, co-existing anions, and H2O2 concentration on tetracycline removal were explored. The related degradation kinetics were studied using various models with experimental data, and it turned out that S-ZnFe2O4 exhibited an optimum tetracycline removal efficiency of 95.41% after 70 min, which is much better than the majority of Photo-Fenton catalysts. Furthermore, the electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) analysis and quenching studies revealed that hydroxyl radicals (OH) and hole (h+) production led to fast tetracycline degradation in the Vis/S-ZnFe2O4/H2O2 system. In particular, the S-ZnFe2O4 demonstrated superparamagnetic properties and high stability, enabling effective catalysis recovery and utilization via an external magnetic field. Based on the degradation products identified by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), three possible degradation pathways of TC were proposed in the Vis/S-ZnFe2O4/H2O2 system. In addition, a significant amount of mineralization was found as total organic carbon (TOC) removal efficiencies were 84.4% within 70 min. The toxicity evaluation with activated sludge showed that the TC solution toxicity increased during the first 30 min, but later on significantly decreased as the oxidation proceeded. This work indicates the S-ZnFe2O4 nanoparticles and gives a new outlook for photo Fenton degradation to reduce the amount and toxicity of antibiotics (TC) effectively in water supplies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101003
JournalMaterials Today Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Heterogeneous catalyst
  • Hydroxyl radical
  • Persistent organic pollutant
  • Photocatalytic degradation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry

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