Atomic layer deposition-based tuning of the pore size in mesoporous thin films studied by in situ grazing incidence small angle X-ray scattering
Atomic layer deposition (ALD) enables the conformal coating of porous materials, making the technique suitable for pore size tuning at the atomic level, e.g., for applications in catalysis, gas separation and sensing. It is, however, not straightforward to obtain information about the conformality of ALD coatings deposited in pores with diameters in the low mesoporous regime (<10 nm). In this work, it is demonstrated that in situ synchrotron based grazing incidence small angle X-ray scattering (GISAXS) can provide valuable information on the change in density and internal surface area during ALD of TiO2 in a porous titania film with small mesopores (3–8 nm). The results are shown to be in good agreement with in situ X-ray fluorescence data representing the evolution of the amount of Ti atoms deposited in the porous film. Analysis of both datasets indicates that the minimum pore diameter that can be achieved by ALD is determined by the size of the Ti-precursor molecule.