Kaolin/ZnO nanocomposites were prepared by heat-induced (100 – 600 °C) decomposition of sodium zinc carbonate clusters synthesized from zinc chloride and sodium carbonate in water suspension of kaolinite-rich kaolin KKAF. X-ray diffraction analysis revealed that highly crystalline ZnO nanoparticles (NPs) are obtained in nanocomposite at a temperature above 400 °C. According to X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, nanocomposites contain ~ 40 wt.% of ZnO NPs. Ultrafine ZnO NPs evenly distributed on the kaolinite surface were observed using transmission electron microscopy. Preferred growth of ZnO NPs on different kaolinite surfaces was investigated using molecular simulations. All nanocomposites (and pristine ZnO NPs prepared similarly as control samples) were characterized also by UV-VIS diffuse reflectance spectroscopy. Photocatalytic activity (tested by discoloration of Acid Orange 7 aqueous solution) of the nanocomposites was found higher than of pristine ZnO NPs which together with high stability (according to leaching tests) is a good prerequisite for the use of samples in various green applications.Keywords: sodium zinc carbonate, nano-ZnO, phyllosilicate, calcination, photoactivity
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