The effect of fluoride on the crystallinity and photoactivity of titania
This dissertation describes the synthesis and characterization of fluorinated N-doped TiO_2 nanoparticles under ambient conditions. Samples were synthesized by sol-gel methods that utilized the controlled hydrolysis of titanium(IV) tetra-isopropoxide in acidic solutions. Nitrogen doping was achieved by two different methods. In one scheme triethylamine (TEA) was added post-synthesis to the nanoparticle formation. In the other scheme, ammonium chloride (NH_4 Cl) was added during the acid catalyzed hydrolysis reaction. A freeze-drying process of the sol-gel was used to prevent aggregation during dehydration and was found to retain the high surface area of the powder. Post-synthesis the hydroxyl groups on the surface were exchanged with fluoride by stirring the powders in acidic solution of NaF. Using this synthetic approach the amount of nitrogen and fluoride could be independently controlled. The nanoparticles were characterized by numerous spectroscopic techniques including DRS, FTIR, Raman, and XPS. Vibrational spectroscopy shows that the particles contain significant amounts of organic impurities after doping with TEA. In contrast, particles synthesized with NH_4 Cl showed much less contamination. XPS analysis revealed that a single nitrogen species with a binding energy of 400.6 eV when using TEA as the N precursor. In contrast, when NH_4 Cl was used as the nitrogen precursor two nitrogen species were observed with binding energies at 402.6 and 401.2 eV. These latter peaks are assigned to interstitial nitrogen in the N^(1+) and N^0 oxidation states. The as-synthesized nanoparticles also show a significant differences in their optical properties. In general, the particles doped from TEA and NH_4 Cl were yellow and white, respectively, despite containing approximately the same amount of nitrogen (~5% with respect to Ti). The difference is attributed to a high fraction of oxygen-vacancies in the TEA doped nanoparticles. XRD and Raman measurements determined that the as-synthesized samples were amorphous, but could be converted to the anatase phase by two different methods. Thermal annealing was shown to convert the amorphous particles to the anatase polymorph. The presence of surface fluoride was found to significantly lower the temperature to observe the amorphous to anatase transition. In the second method, stirring the powders in acidic solutions of NaF at room temperature for 12-168 hours produced the anatase phase with an average crystallite size of 4 nm. It was found that the phase transition only occurs when the pH is below the point of zero charge of the particles. The photoactivity of the nitrogen and nitrogen / fluoride-doped particles was tested for their ability to degrade methylene blue (MB) with visible light (> 400 nm). In general the particles with a surface fluoride were more photoactive that those without. In addition, particles with nitrogen were more photoactive than pure TiO_2 . By analyzing the decomposition products with electrospray ionization mass spectrometry and UV-Vis spectroscopy, it was possible to elucidate a different decomposition pathway for the nitrogen-doped samples. When TEA was the dopant precursor, MB primarily decomposed by a ring-cleavage pathway using superoxide. In contrast, when NH_4 Cl was the dopant precursor, MB decomposed through demethylation pathway induced by hydroxyl radicals. The as-synthesized particles were found to be more photoactive those thermally annealed. The loss of photoactivity could be ascribed to two main factors: (1) loss of nitrogen and fluoride and (2) loss of surface area by sintering.