A. Borrás, J.R. Sánchez-Valencia, J. Garrido-Molinero, A. Barranco, A.R. González-Elipe
Microporous and Mesoporous Materials, 118 (2009) 314-324
doi: 10.1016/j.micromeso.2008.09.002

The microstructure of TiO2 thin films prepared by plasma enhanced chemical vapour deposition has been assessed by using water adsorption–desorption isotherms measured by means of a quartz crystal monitor (QCM). Thin films have been deposited by using titanium tetraisopropoxide as a precursor and by changing different experimental parameters of the deposition procedure such as temperature of the substrate, pressure, and gas composition in the plasma. The films were characteristic of different microstructures that, according to their scanning electron micrographs, have been categorized as columnar, homogeneous and crystalline. They also have different refraction indices with values between 1.95 and 2.41. Water and toluene adsorption isotherms have been measured by means of a QCM monitor for the films heated in vacuum to remove the water previously adsorbed in their pores. The analysis of the adsorption-desorption isotherms by means of the so called “t-plots” and the determination of the pore size distribution curves rendered that the three kinds of microstructures presented different kinds of isotherms and water adsorption behaviours.Columnar films consisted of micro- and meso-pores had a very high adsorption hystheresis at low pressures. Homogeneous films only had micropores and presented no adsorption hystheresis. Crystalline films consisted of both micro- and meso-pores but had no adsorption hystheresis at low pressures. A zone scheme has been proposed to account for the microstructure of the films depending on the plasma conditions utilized. The implications of the different water adsorption behaviours of the films for the determination of their refraction indices are discussed.

Porosity and microstructure of plasma deposited TiO2 thin films