Mesoscopically structured nanocrystalline metal oxide thin films
This review describes the main successful strategies that are used to grow mesostructured nanocrystalline metal oxide and SiO2 films via deposition of sol–gel derived solutions. In addition to the typical physicochemical forces to be considered during crystallization, mesoporous thin films are also affected by the substrate–film relationship and the mesostructure. The substrate can influence the crystallization temperature and the obtained crystallographic orientation due to the interfacial energies and the lattice mismatch. The mesostructure can influence the crystallite orientation, and affects nucleation and growth behavior due to the wall thickness and pore curvature. Three main methods are presented and discussed: templated mesoporosity followed by thermally induced crystallization, mesostructuration of already crystallized metal oxide nanobuilding units and substrate-directed crystallization with an emphasis on very recent results concerning epitaxially grown piezoelectric structured α-quartz films via crystallization of amorphous structured SiO2 thin films.