Pure ZnO nanoparticles (NPs) and mixed Eu2O3 and ZnO NPs with different Eu2O3 ratios (5%, 10%, and 15%)
were synthesized by a precipitation method under optimum conditions. The synthesized samples were characterized by means of X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and UV–vis diffuse reflectance spectroscopy. The as-synthesized ZnO NPs exhibit high phase purity and a highly crystalline wurtzite ZnO structure. The mixed Eu2O3 and ZnO NPs exhibit a Eu2O3 zinc blend phase in addition to the wurtzite phase of pure ZnO, confirming the high purity and good crystallinity of the as-synthesized samples. The high-purity formation of ZnO and Eu2O3 phases was confirmed by FTIR and Raman spectra. Microstructural analysis by SEM and TEM confirmed the sphere-like morphology with different particle sizes (29–40 nm) of the as-synthesized samples. The photocatalytic activities of pure ZnO NPs and mixed Eu2O3 and ZnO NPs for the degradation of methylene blue were evaluated under ultraviolet (UV) irradiation. The results show that Eu2O3 plays an important role in the enhancement of the photocatalytic properties of ZnO NPs. We found that mixed 5% Eu2O3 and ZnO NPs exhibit the highest photocatalytic activity (degradation efficiency of 96.5% after 180 min of UV irradiation) as compared with pure ZnO NPs (degradation efficiency of 80.3% after 180 min of UV irradiation). The increased photocatalytic activity of the optimum mixed Eu2O3 and ZnO NPs is due to the high crystallinity, high surface area with small particle size, and narrow energy gap.