Fe2O3–TiO2 nanosystems by a hybrid PE-CVD/ALD approach: controllable synthesis, growth mechanism, and photocatalytic properties†
Supported Fe2O3–TiO2 nanocomposites are fabricated by an original vapor phase synthetic strategy, consisting of the initial growth of Fe2O3 nanosystems on fluorine-doped tin oxide substrates by plasma enhanced-chemical vapor deposition, followed by atomic layer deposition of TiO2 overlayers with variable thickness, and final thermal treatment in air. A thorough characterization of the target systems is carried out by X-ray diffraction, atomic force microscopy, field emission-scanning electron microscopy, energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. High purity nanomaterials characterized by the co-presence of Fe2O3 (hematite) and TiO2 (anatase), with an intimate Fe2O3–TiO2 contact, are successfully obtained. In addition, photocatalytic tests demonstrate that, whereas both single-phase oxides do not show appreciable activity, the composite systems are able to degrade methyl orange aqueous solutions under simulated solar light, and even visible light, with an efficiency directly dependent on TiO2 overlayer thickness. This finding opens attractive perspectives for eventual applications in wastewater treatment.