Deposition of a titania layer on spherical porous silica particles and their nanostructure-induced vapor sensing properties†
A titania-stearic acid hybrid layer was deposited onto well-defined silica-hexadecyltrimethylammonium hybrid spherical particles with 854 nm size to obtain nanoporous particles with a useful hierarchical core–shell structure. The deposition of a 35 nm-thick titania layer was confirmed by transmission electron microscopy. The core–shell particles were washed with acidic ethanol (solvent extraction) and calcined at 550 °C for 5 h to remove the template, resulting in the formation of nanoporous titania coated nanoporous silica spherical particles, which have a bimodal pore size distribution attributed to the hierarchical porous core and porous shell structure. The nanoporous titania coated particles exhibited an unusual crystal phase transition; only anatase was present even after the calcination at 1000 °C for 1 h. This would be due to the interfacial bonding between the core silica and the shell titania, preventing the crystal phase transition from anatase to rutile. On the other hand, the direct calcination of the titania-stearic acid coated particles without solvent extraction led to a shell composed of both anatase and rutile. The transformation to rutile could be caused by the strong exothermic reaction during the oxidative decomposition of the occluded stearic acid. Furthermore, the intense exothermic reaction induced the formation of a yolk–shell structure, which played a role in the sensitive/selective sensing properties for acetic acid when the yolk–shell particles were coated onto a nanomechanical Membrane-type Surface stress Sensor (MSS).