Amorphous undoped and Nb-doped films were obtained by the spin coating method. The films have a compact structure, as revealed by scanning electron microscopy, and are very thin, with thickness values under 100 nm. The photocatalytic activity of the films was evaluated by observing the decomposition of an oleic acid solution under UV irradiation, and by studying the change in the optical transmittance of an aqueous solution containing methylene blue, in the presence of the UV-irradiated films. More than 30 h, depending on doping, are needed to recover their initial contact angles before applying oleic acid. The increase of the optical transmittance of the methylene blue solution confirms the photocatalytic degradation of methylene blue on the Nb-doped TiO2 films. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy studies, performed to detect the presence of the carbon on the irradiated surface of the films, drive to the conclusion that at the surface of the films, even for contact angles close to 0°, the presence of carbon still can be detected, which demonstrates that hydrophilicity is ruled by a different mechanism than photocatalysis.
Volume 43, 2020
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