Atomic layer deposition and photocatalytic properties of titanium dioxide thin films

Viljami Pore
Abstract & Cover

Photocatalytic TiO2 thin films can be highly useful in many environments and applications. They can be used as self-cleaning coatings on top of glass, tiles and steel to reduce the amount of fouling on these surfaces. Photocatalytic TiO2 surfaces have antimicrobial properties making them potentially useful in hospitals, bathrooms and many other places where microbes may cause problems. TiO2 photocatalysts can also be used to clean contaminated water and air. Photocatalytic oxidation and reduction reactions proceed on TiO2 surfaces under irradiation of UV light meaning that sunlight and even normal indoor lighting can be utilized. In order to improve the photocatalytic properties of TiO2 materials even further, various modification methods have been explored. Doping with elements such as nitrogen, sulfur and fluorine, and preparation of different kinds of composites are typical approaches that have been employed. Photocatalytic TiO2 nanotubes and other nanostructures are gaining interest as well. Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) is a chemical gas phase thin film deposition method with strong roots in Finland. This unique modification of the common Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) method is based on alternate supply of precursor vapors to the substrate which forces the film growth reactions to proceed only on the surface in a highly controlled manner. ALD gives easy and accurate film thickness control, excellent large area uniformity and unparalleled conformality on complex shaped substrates. These characteristics have recently led to several breakthroughs in microelectronics, nanotechnology and many other areas. In this work, the utilization of ALD to prepare photocatalytic TiO2 thin films was studied in detail. Undoped as well as nitrogen, sulfur and fluorine doped TiO2 thin films were prepared and thoroughly characterized. ALD prepared undoped TiO2 films were shown to exhibit good photocatalytic activities. Of the studied dopants, sulfur and fluorine were identified as much better choices than nitrogen. Nanostructured TiO2 photocatalysts were prepared through template directed deposition on various complex shaped substrates by exploiting the good qualities of ALD. A clear enhancement in the photocatalytic activity was achieved with these nanostructures. Several new ALD processes were also developed in this work. TiO2 processes based on two new titanium precursors, Ti(OMe)4 and TiF4, were shown to exhibit saturative ALDtype of growth when water was used as the other precursor. In addition, TiS2 thin films were prepared for the first time by ALD using TiCl4 and H2S as precursors. Ti1-xNbxOy and Ti1-xTaxOy transparent conducting oxide films were prepared successfully by ALD and post-deposition annealing. Highly unusual, explosive crystallization behaviour occurred in these mixed oxides which resulted in anatase crystals with lateral dimensions over 1000 times the film thickness. 

Source of Information
FinALD40 exhibition material,
University of Helsinki, Department of Chemistry, Laboratory of Inorganic Chemistry
(Helsinki, Finland)
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