Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
  • Publication
    Evaluation of microwave plasma oxidation treatments for the fabrication of photoactive un-doped and carbon-doped TiO2 coatings
    The photoactivity of both un-doped and carbon-doped titanium dioxide (TiO2) coatings has been widely reported. In this paper, the use of a microwave plasma as a novel oxidation treatment for the fabrication of these coatings is evaluated. The photoactivity performance of the microwave plasma-formed coatings is benchmarked against those fabricated through air furnace oxidation as well as those deposited using reactive magnetron sputtering. The un-doped and carbon-doped TiO2 coatings were prepared respectively by microwave plasma-oxidizing titanium metal sheets and sputter deposited titanium carbide thin films. The resulting oxides were characterized using XPS, XRD, FEG-SEM, and optical profilometry. The oxide layer thicknesses achieved over the 15 to 45 minute oxidation times were in the range of 0.15 to 3.44 µm. These coatings were considerably thicker than those obtained by air furnace oxidation. The microwave plasma-formed oxides also exhibited significantly higher surface roughness values compared with the magnetron-sputtered coatings. The photoactivity performance of both un-doped and carbon-doped coatings was assessed using photocurrent density measurements. Comparing the un-doped TiO2 coatings, it was observed that those obtained using the microwave plasma oxidation route yielded photocurrent density measurements that were 4.3 times higher than the TiO2 coatings of the same thickness that were deposited by sputtering. The microwave plasma-oxidized titanium carbide coatings did not perform as well as the un-doped TiO2 probably due to the presence of un-oxidized carbide in the coatings, which reduced their photoactivity.
      1418Scopus© Citations 33
  • Publication
    Achieving enhanced DSSC performance by microwave plasma incorporation of carbon into TiO2 photoelectrodes
    The photoactivity of carbon-incorporated titanium dioxide (TiO2) has been widely reported. This study involves a novel approach to the incorporation of carbon into TiO2 through the use of microwave plasma processing. The process involved thermally treating printed TiO2 nanoparticle coatings in a microwave-induced argon-oxygen plasma containing low concentrations of methane. The resulting deposited carbon layer was characterized using XRD, XPS, Raman, UV–vis, ellipsometry, and optical profilometry. It was found that the methane gas was dissociated in the microwave plasma into its carbon species, which were then deposited as a nm-thick layer onto the TiO2 coatings, most likely in the form of graphite. The photovoltaic performances of both the TiO2 and the carbon-incorporated TiO2 were assessed through J-V and IPCE measurements of the N719-sensitized solar cells using the titania as their photoanodes. Up to a 72% improvement in the maximum power density (Pd-max) was observed for the carbon-incorporated TiO2 samples as compared to the TiO2, onto which no carbon was added. This improvement was found to be mainly associated with an increase in the short-circuit current density (Jsc), but independent from the open-circuit voltage (Voc), the filter factor (FF), and the level of dye adsorption. Possible contributory factors to the improved performance of the carbon-incorporated TiO2 were the enhanced electron conductivity and electron lifetime, both of which were elucidated through electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). When the surface layer was examined using XPS, the optimal carbon content on the TiO2 coating surface was found to be 8.4%, beyond which there was a reduction in the DSSC efficiency.
      601Scopus© Citations 16
  • Publication
    Conversion of amorphous TiO2 coatings into their crystalline form using a novel microwave plasma treatment
    Crystalline titanium dioxide (TiO2) coatings have been widely used in photo-electrochemical solar cell applications. In this study, TiO2 and carbon-doped TiO2 coatings were deposited onto unheated titanium and silicon wafer substrates using a DC closed-field magnetron sputtering system. The resultant coatings had an amorphous structure and a post-deposition heat treatment is required to convert this amorphous structure into the photoactive crystalline phase(s) of TiO2. This study investigates the use of a microwave plasma heat treatment as a means of achieving this crystalline conversion. The treatment involved placing the sputtered coatings into a 2.45 GHz microwave-induced nitrogen plasma where they were heated to approximately 550°C. It was observed that for treatment times as short as 1 minute, the 0.25-µm thick coatings were converted into the anatase crystalline phase of TiO2. The coatings were further transformed into the rutile crystalline phase after treatments at higher temperatures. The doping of TiO2 with carbon was found to result in a reduction in this phase transformation temperature, with higher level of doping (up to 5.8% in this study) leading to lower anatase-to-rutile transition temperature. The photoactivity performance of both doped and un-doped coatings heat-treated using both furnace and microwave plasma was compared. The carbon-doped TiO2 exhibited a 29% increase in photocurrent density compared to that observed for the un-doped coating. Comparing carbon-doped coatings heat-treated using the furnace and microwave plasma, it was observed that the latter yielded a 19% increase in photocurrent density. This enhanced performance may be correlated to the differences in the coatings’ surface morphology and band gap energy, both of which influence the coatings’ photoabsorption efficiency.
      2451Scopus© Citations 8