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Towards a full understanding of the growth dynamics and optical response of self-assembled photonic colloidal crystal films

Lozano, GS; Dorado, LA; Depine, RA; Miguez, H
Journal of Materials Chemistry, 19 (2009) 185-190
Materiales Ópticos Multifuncionales


Recent advances in the comprehension of the growth dynamics of colloidal crystal films opens the door to rational design of experiments aiming at fabricating lattices in which the density of intrinsic defects is minimized. Since such imperfections have a dramatic effect on scattered light of wavelength smaller than the lattice constant, the evaluation of the experimental optical response at those energy ranges, based on the comparison to rigorous calculations, is identified as the most sensitive guide to accurately evaluate the progress towards the actual realization of defect-free colloidal crystals.

Febrero, 2009 | DOI: 10.1039/b811955d

Phase separation of carboxylic acids on graphite surface at submonolayer regime

Alba, MD; Bickerstaffe, AK; Castro, MA; Clarke, SM; Medina, S; Millan, C; Orta, MM; Pavon, E; Perdigon, AC
The European Physical Journal Special Topics, 167 (2009) 151-156
Materiales de Diseño para la Energía y Medioambiente


Mixing behaviour of solid crystalline monolayers adsorbed onto graphite from different mixtures of undecanoic and dodecanoic acids at submonolayer coverage has been investigated. X-ray diffraction measurements have been collected from a variety of compositions as a function of temperature. An extensive phase separation is found for all the compositions – the scattering patterns characteristic of the pure material crystalline structures being preserved across the entire composition range. The temperature dependence of the monolayer melting points and their depression is also clearly indicative of separation of the two surface components, in clear contrast to that expected if the two carboxylic acids mixed ideally in the monolayer.

Febrero, 2009 | DOI: 10.1140/epjst/e2009-00951-6

Preferential Adsorption from Binary Mixtures on Graphite: The n-Decane−n-Heptan-1-ol System

Alba, MD; Castro, MA; Clarke, S; Medina, S; Messe, L; Millan, C; Orta, MM; Perdigon, AC
Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 113 (2009) 3176-3180
Materiales de Diseño para la Energía y Medioambiente


The competitive adsorption of n-decane and n-heptan-1-ol adsorbed from the binary liquid mixture onto graphite has been studied using differential scanning calorimetry, incoherent quasielastic neutron scattering, and 1H and 2H nuclear magnetic resonance. A solid monolayer is identified at all bulk solution compositions with a melting temperature that varies with bulk composition in a manner resembling the bulk behavior. Incoherent elastic neutron scattering, IQNS, and nuclear magnetic resonance, NMR, data indicate that decane is preferentially adsorbed onto the surface over most of the composition range, heptanol being the principal surface component only at very high heptanol concentrations. NMR is proved, for the first time, to be an efficient tool to provide independent information on each component of the system.

Febrero, 2009 | DOI: 10.1021/jp8072014

Control over the Structural and Optical Features of Nanoparticle-Based One-Dimensional Photonic Crystals

Calvo, ME; Sanchez-Sobrado, O; Colodrero, S; Miguez, H
Langmuir, 25 (2012) 2443-2448
Materiales Ópticos Multifuncionales


Herein we present a detailed analysis of the effect of the spin-coating protocol over the optical properties of nanoparticle-based one-dimensional photonic crystals. Based on these results, we provide a reliable synthetic route to attain high-quality porous multilayers in which the effect of imperfections is minimized and whose Bragg diffraction can be precisely tuned over the entire visible and near-infrared spectrum. We present a systematic study of the effect of the acceleration ramp and final rotation speed over the structural and optical quality of these materials. This allows us to relate the structural variations observed with the different relative importance of fluid flow and solvent evaporation on the thinning of each layer in the stack for the different deposition conditions employed.

Febrero, 2009 | DOI: 10.1021/la8030057

Synthesis of MCM-22 zeolites of different Si/Al ratio and their structural, morphological and textural characterisation

Delitala, C; Alba, MD; Becerro, AI; Delpiano, D; Meloni, D; Musu, E; Ferino, I
Microporous and Mesoporous Materials, 118 (2009) 1-10
Materiales de Diseño para la Energía y Medioambiente


MCM-22 zeolites with Si/Al in the 9–46 range were synthesised in rotating autoclave and characterised by X-ray diffraction, 1H, 29Si and 27Al magic angle spinning nuclear magnetic resonance, scanning electron microscopy and nitrogen physisorption. For the Si/Al = 21, 30 and 46 samples both X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy revealed the crystallisation of pure MCM-22. Besides the latter, crystals of ferrierite also formed during the synthesis of the Si/Al = 9 sample. Based on the 1H MAS NMR spectra of dehydrated samples, the different proton species present on the MCM-22 samples were determined and quantified. Information about the incorporation of Al ions into the zeolite framework, as well as on the preferential crystallographic sites occupied in dependence on the Si/Al ratio of the sample, was obtained by 27Al MAS NMR spectroscopy. From 29Si MAS NMR spectra, differences in the degree of crystallinity of the samples were assessed, the results being in agreement with the diffraction data. Nitrogen physisorption runs revealed the microporous nature of the adsorbents, with a supermicropore to ultramicropore volume ratio in good agreement, for the best crystallised samples, with the porous structure with supercages and sinusoidal channels of the ideal MCM-22 crystal.

Febrero, 2009 | DOI: 10.1016/j.micromeso.2008.07.047

Fabrication of ordered crystalline zirconium nanoporous membranes by an one-step procedure

Marquez, F; Morant, C; Pirota, KR; Borras, A; Sanz, JM; Elizalde, E
Nano Today, 4 (2009) 21-26
Nanotecnología en Superficies y Plasma


Crystalline porous zirconium membranes were obtained by physical vapor deposition on AAO templates at room temperature. These membranes were found to have similar hexagonal nanohole arrays as the template and high crystallinity. The pore size of the synthesized metallic membranes could be controlled during the synthesis through appropriate parameters in the experimental procedure.

Febrero, 2009 | DOI: 10.1016/j.nantod.2008.10.012

Liquid-phase thiophene adsorption on MCM-22 zeolites. Acidity, adsorption behaviour and nature of the adsorbed products

Delitala, C; Cadoni, E; Delpiano, D; Meloni, D; Alba, MD; Becerro, AI; Ferino, I
Microporous and Mesoporous Materials, 118 (2009) 11-20
Materiales de Diseño para la Energía y Medioambiente


The liquid-phase adsorption of thiophene from thiophene/iso-octane solutions has been investigated in batch conditions at room temperature and atmospheric pressure on MCM-22 zeolites with Si/Al in the 9–46 range. Thiophene adsorption was found to occur in two steps whatever the Si/Al ratio of the adsorbent. The presence of ferrierite besides the MCM-22 phase caused a significant loss of the adsorption performance. For pure MCM-22 samples, the Si/Al ratio influenced the adsorption performance. Based on the acid properties of the samples, investigated by adsorption microcalorimetry of ammonia, the adsorption features were interpreted by assuming that positively charged species were originated during the first step; these species underwent successive reaction with weakly adsorbed species formed in the second step, leading to heavy molecular weight organosulphur compounds. Direct evidence for the occurrence of reactive adsorption of thiophene involving its transformation into heavy molecular weight organosulphur compounds was obtained by GC/MS investigation of the nature of the adsorbed material recovered after the adsorption experiments. The peculiar structure of MCM-22 zeolites made possible the formation of long-sized organosulphur compounds. Due to the mechanism by which thiophene is transformed (i.e. progressive addition of other thiophene molecules), the size of the resulting products was found to depend also on the concentration of the weakly adsorbed thiophene molecules able to interact with those already activated through protonation.

Febrero, 2009 | DOI: 10.1016/j.micromeso.2008.08.008

Porous One-Dimensional Photonic Crystals Improve the Power-Conversion Efficiency of Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells

Colodrero, S; Mihi, A; Haggman, L; Ocana, M; Boschloo, G; Hagfeldt, A; Miguez, H
Advanced Materials, 21 (2009) 764-770
Materiales Coloidales, Materiales Ópticos Multifuncionales


A device for solar-energy conversion was introduced in which a porous and highly reflecting 1D photonic crystal (1D PC) was coupled to a dye-sensitized nanocrystals anatase (NC-TiO2) electrode. The results show that the transparency of the PC-based dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC) in the visible range of the electromagnetic spectrum is very similar to that of the reference cell. The multilayer whose photonic bandgap has a larger overlap with the absorption band of the ruthenium dye, gives rise to a larger enhancement of the photocurrent. It is also seen that the porous 0.5μm thick PC, whose deleterious effect is compensated by the large increment in photocurrent. The spectral photoelectric response of the cell clearly shows the effect that coupling to a PC has on the current photogenerated in the dye-sensitized electrode.

Febrero, 2009 | DOI: 10.1002/adma.200703115

Porosity and microstructure of plasma deposited TiO2 thin films

Borras, A; Sanchez-Valencia, JR; Garrido-Molinero, J; Barranco, A; Gonzalez-Elipe, AR
Microporous and Mesoporous Materials, 118 (2009) 314-324
Nanotecnología en Superficies y Plasma


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.

Febrero, 2009 | DOI: 10.1016/j.micromeso.2008.09.002

Luminescent and Optical Properties of Nanocomposite Thin Films Deposited by Remote Plasma Polymerization of Rhodamine 6G

Aparicio, FJ; Borras, A; Blaszczyk-Lezak, I; Groning, P; Alvarez-Herrero, A; Fernandez-Rodriguez, M; Gonzalez-Elipe, AR; Barranco, A
Plasma Processes and Polymers, 6 (2009) 17-26
Nanotecnología en Superficies y Plasma


Mechanically stable and insoluble fluorescent thin films have been deposited by sublimating Rhodamine 6G laser dye in the downstream region of a low-power microwave ECR plasma using an experimental set-up designed to control the interaction of the dye molecule with the glow discharge. The use of reactive organosilane plasmas allows to control the dye distribution inside the matrix, leading to solid nanocomposite thin films containing non-aggregated dye molecules. The suppression of aggregates is a key issue to avoid fluorescence quenching. The obtained nanocomposite films are interesting because of their strong absorption and high fluorescence emission. In addition, they can be patterned using in situ plasma treatments in order to produce optically functional devices.

Enero, 2009 | DOI: 10.1002/ppap.200800092

Experimental Demonstration of the Mechanism of Light Harvesting Enhancement in Photonic-Crystal-Based Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells

Colodrero, S; Mihi, A; Anta, JA; Ocaña, M; Miguez, H
Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 113 (2012) 1150-1154
Materiales Coloidales, Materiales Ópticos Multifuncionales


Herein, we report an experimental analysis of the photogenerated current of very thin and uniform dye-sensitized nanocrytalline titanium oxide (nc-TiO2) electrodes coupled to high-quality one-dimensional photonic crystals. The effect of well-defined optical absorption resonances are detected both in optical spectroscopy and photogenerated current experiments, a clear correspondence between them being established. Our study demonstrates that light trapping within absorbing electrodes is responsible for the absorption enhancement that has previously been reported and unveils the mechanism behind it. We prove that this effect improves significantly the power conversion efficiency of very thin electrodes.

Enero, 2009 | DOI: 10.1021/jp809789s

Influence of the microstructure on the mechanical and tribological behavior of TiC/a-C nanocomposite coatings

Martinez-Martinez, D; Lopez-Cartes, C; Fernandez, A; Sanchez-Lopez, JC
Thin Solid Films, 517 (2009) 1662-1671
Materiales Nanoestructurados y Microestructura


The performance of protective thin films is clearly influenced by their microstructure. The objective of this work is to study the influence of the structure of TiC/a-C nanocomposite coatings with a-C contents ranging from ~ 0% to 100% on their mechanical and tribological properties measured by ultramicroindentation and pin-on-disks tests at ambient air, respectively. The microstructure evolves from a polycrystalline columnar structure consisting of TiC crystals to an amorphous and dense TiC/a-C nanocomposite structure when the amount of a-C is increased. The former samples show high hardness, moderate friction and high wear rates, while the latter ones show a decrease in hardness but an improvement in tribological performance. No apparent direct correlation is found between hardness and wear rate, which is controlled by the friction coefficient. These results are compared to the literature and explained according to the different film microstructures and chemical bonding nature. The film stress has also been measured at the macro and micro levels by the curvature and Williamson–Hall methods respectively. Other mechanical properties of the coating such as resilience and toughness were evaluated by estimating the H3/E⁎2 and H/E⁎ ratios and the percentage of elastic work (We). None of these parameters showed a tendency that could explain the observed tribological results, indicating that for self-lubricant nanocomposite systems this correlation is not so simple and that the assembly of different factors must be taken into account.

Enero, 2009 | DOI: 10.1016/j.tsf.2008.09.091

Application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in the search for and characterization of raw materials of interest in ceramics and glass

Garzon, E; Garcia, IG; Ruiz-Conde, A; Sanchez-Soto, PJ
Boletín de la Sociedad Española de Cerámica y Vidrio, 48 (2009) 39-44
Materiales Avanzados


Optically Active Luminescent Perylene Thin Films Deposited by Plasma Polymerization

Blaszczyk-Lezak, I; Aparicio, FJ; Borras, A; Barranco, A; Alvarez-Herrero, A; Fernandez-Rodriguez, M; Gonzalez-Elipe, AR
Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 113 (2009) 12840-12847
Nanotecnología en Superficies y Plasma


This work reports about the preparation of plasma polymerized thin films of perylene with thicknesses 30−150 nm and their characterization by different methods and the analysis of their optical properties. Highly absorbent and fluorescent films have been obtained by this method that combines the sublimation of the perylene molecules and their controlled polymerization by the interaction with remote Ar plasma. The polymeric films are very flat with a root mean square (rms) roughness in the range 0.3−0.4 nm. In contrast with the sublimated layers of perylene that present a high scattering of light, the polymerized films depict the well-defined absorption bands in the region 400−450 nm and fluorescence spectra of the perylene molecule at 475 nm. The films are formed by a matrix formed by cross-linked fragments of perylene and intact molecules that confer the observed optical properties to this material. The optical and microstructural characteristics of this type of thin films and the possibility to perform their deposition by using lithographic procedures make them suitable for their integration into photonic components for various applications. A preliminary study of the use of these films as an optical sensor of NO2 is also presented.

Enero, 2009 | DOI:

Gold nanoparticles on silica monospheres modified by amino groups

Penkova, A; Blanes, JMM; Cruz, SA; Centeno, MA; Hadjiivanov, K; Odriozola, JA
Microporous and Mesoporous Materials, 117 (2009) 530-534
Química de Superficies y Catálisis


Silica monospheres with a diameter of 330 nm modified with aminosilane compounds of three different basicities have been prepared. Surface coverage of the silica with an organic compound leads to an increase of the point of zero charge (PZC) of the silica surface from 2.1 to 5.1, 6.5 and 7.2 values, depending on the amine used. From these silicas, gold-containing catalysts have been prepared by a deposition–precipitation method at the same pH as the PZC of the support. The best results have been obtained using 3-(Diethoxymethylsilyl) propylamine as a modifying agent, which has allowed obtaining a good dispersion of the gold particles with an average size of 3.8 nm.

Enero, 2009 | DOI: 10.1016/j.micromeso.2008.07.041

General Quantum-Mechanical Study on the Hydrolysis Equilibria for a Tetravalent Aquaion: The Extreme Case of the Po(IV) in Water

Ayala, R; Martinez, JM; Pappalardo, RR; Paez, AM; Marcos, ES
Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 113 (2009) 487-496


A systematic study of the different hydrolyzed species derived from the hydrated Po(IV) in water, [Po(H2O)n(OH)m](4−m) for 1 m 4, and 4 m + n 9, has been carried out by means of quantum mechanical computations. The effects of outer solvation shells have been included using a polarizable continuum dielectric model. For a fixed number of hydroxyl groups, the preferred hydration number for the Po(IV) can be determined in terms of Gibbs energy. It is shown that the hydration number (n) systematically decreases with the increase in the number of hydroxyl groups (m) in such a way the total coordination number (n + m) becomes smaller, being 9 in the aquocomplex and 4 in the neutral hydroxo-complex. Free energies for the hydrolysis processes involving Po(IV) complexes and a different number of hydroxyl groups have been computed, revealing the strong tendency toward hydrolysis exhibited by these complexes. The predominant species of Po(IV) in aqueous solutions are ruled by a dynamical equilibrium involving aggregates containing in the first coordination shell OH− groups and water molecules. Although there is not experimental information to check the theoretical predictions, theoretical computations in solution seem to suggest that the most likely clusters are [Po(H2O)5(OH)2]2+ and [Po(H2O)4(OH)2]2+. The geometry of the different clusters is ruled by the trend of hydroxyl groups to be mutually orthogonal and to promote a strong perturbation of the water molecule in trans-position by lengthening the Po−H2O distances and tilting the corresponding bond angle. A general thermodynamic cycle is defined to compute the Gibbs free energy associated to the formation of the different hydrolyzed forms in solution. From it, the estimates of pKa values associated to the different protolytic equilibria are provided and discussed. Comparison of the relative values of pKa along a hydrolysis series with the experimental values for other tetravalent cations supports its consistency.

Enero, 2009 | DOI: 10.1021/jp804957s