Indexed on: 15 Mar '13Published on: 15 Mar '13Published in: ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Nanocomposite thin films formed by mesoporous titania layers loaded with ceria nanoparticles have been obtained by combining bottom-up self-assembly synthesis of a titania matrix with top-down hard X-ray lithography of nanocrystalline cerium oxide. At first the titania mesopores have been impregnated with the ceria precursor solution and then exposed to hard X-rays, which triggered the formation of crystalline cerium oxides within the pores inducing the in situ growth of nanoparticles with average size of 4 nm. It has been observed that the type of coordinating agent in the solution plays a primary role in the formation of nanoparticles. Different patterns have been also produced through deep X-ray lithography by spatially controlling the nanoparticle growth on the micrometer scale. The radical scavenging role of the nanocomposite films has been tested using as a benchmark the UV photodegradation of rhodamine 6G. After impregnation with a rhodamine 6G solution, samples with and without ceria have shown a remarkably different response upon exposure to UV light. The dye photodegradation on the surface of nanocomposite films appears strongly slowed down because of the antioxidation effect of ceria nanoparticles.