Titanium oxide nanoparticle production using high power pulsed plasmas
Abstract: This thesis covers fundamental aspects of process control when growing titanium oxide nanoparticles in a reactive sputtering process. It covers the influence of oxygen containing gas on the oxidation state of the cathode from which the growth material is ejected, as well as its influence on the particles oxidation state and their nucleation. It was found that a low degree of reactive gases was necessary for nanoparticles of titanium to nucleate. When the oxygen gas was slightly increased, the nanoparticle yield and particle oxygen content increased. A further increase caused a decrease in particle yield which was attributed to a slight oxidation of the cathode. By varying the oxygen flow to the process, it was possible to control the oxygen content of the nanoparticles without fully oxidizing the cathode. Because oxygen containing gases such as residual water vapour has a profound influence on nanoparticle yield and composition, the deposition source was re-engineered to allow for cleaner and thus more stable synthesis conditions.The size of the nanoparticles has been controlled by two means. The first is to change electrical potentials around the growth zone, which allows for nanoparticle size control in the order of 25-75 nm. This size control does not influence the oxygen content of the nanoparticles. The second means of size control investigated was by increasing the pressure. By doing this, the particle size can be increased from 50 – 250 nm, however the oxygen content also increases with pressure. Different particle morphologies were found by changing the pressure. At low pressures, mostly spherical particles with weak facets were produced. As the pressure increased, the particles got a cubic shape. At higher pressures the cubic particles started to get a fractured surface. At the highest pressure investigated, the fractured surface became poly-crystalline, giving a cauliflower shaped morphology.
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