Surface functionalization of grown-on-tip ZnO nanopyramids : from fabrication to light-triggered applications

Gasparotto, Alberto and Maccato, Chiara and Carraro, Giorgio and Sada, Cinzia and Štangar, Urška Lavrenčič and Alessi, Bruno and Rocks, Conor and Mariotti, Davide and Porta, Andrea La and Altantzis, Thomas and Barreca, Davide (2019) Surface functionalization of grown-on-tip ZnO nanopyramids : from fabrication to light-triggered applications. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. 15881–15890. ISSN 1944-8244 (

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We report on a combined chemical vapor deposition (CVD)/radio frequency (RF) sputtering synthetic strategy for the controlled surface modification of ZnO nanostructures by Ti-containing species. Specifically, the proposed approach consists in the CVD of grown-on-tip ZnO nanopyramids, followed by titanium RF sputtering under mild conditions. The results obtained by a thorough characterization demonstrate the successful ZnO surface functionalization with dispersed Ti-containing species in low amounts. This phenomenon, in turn, yields a remarkable enhancement of photoactivated superhydrophilic behavior, self-cleaning ability, and photocatalytic performances in comparison to bare ZnO. The reasons accounting for such an improvement are unravelled by a multitechnique analysis, elucidating the interplay between material chemico-physical properties and the corresponding functional behavior. Overall, the proposed strategy stands as an amenable tool for the mastering of semiconductor-based functional nanoarchitectures through ad hoc engineering of the system surface.