Recent experimental research efforts on developing functional nanostructured III-nitride and metal-oxide materials via low-temperature atomic layer deposition (ALD) will be reviewed. Ultimate conformality, a unique propoerty of ALD process, is utilized to fabricate core-shell and hollow tubular nanostructures on various nano-templates including electrospun nanofibrous polymers, self-assembled peptide nanofibers, metallic nanowires, and multi-wall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs). III-nitride and metal-oxide coatings were deposited on these nano-templates via thermal and plasma-enhanced ALD processes with thickness values ranging from a few mono-layers to 40 nm.
Metal-oxide materials studied include ZnO, TiO2, HfO2, ZrO2, and Al2O3. Standard ALD growth recipes were modified so that precursor molecules have enough time to diffuse and penetrate within the layers/pores of the nano-template material. As a result, uniform and conformal coatings on high-surface area nano-templates were demonstrated. Substrate temperatures were kept below 200C and within the self-limiting ALD window, so that temperature-sensitive template materials preserved their integrity III-nitride coatings were applied to similar nano-templates via plasma-enhanced ALD (PEALD) technique. AlN, GaN, and InN thin-film coating recipes were optimized to achieve self-limiting growth with deposition temperatures as low as 100C. BN growth took place only for >350C, in which precursor decomposition occured and therefore growth proceeded in CVD regime. III-nitride core-shell and hollow tubular single and multi-layered nanostructures were fabricated.
The resulting metal-oxide and III-nitride core-shell and hollow nano-tubular structures were used for photocatalysis, dye sensitized solar cell (DSSC), energy storage and chemical sensing applications. Significantly enhanced catalysis, solar efficiency, charge capacity and sensitivity performance are reported. Moreover, core-shell metal-oxide and III-nitride materials showed promise to be used in applications where flexibility is critical like functional membranes, textile and flexible electronic applications.
Organically modified silica (ORMOSIL)-coated dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) with improved energy conversion efficiency are demonstrated. ORMOSIL-coated DSSC surfaces exhibit omnidirectional low reflectivity over a broad range of wavelengths (400–800 nm). The short-circuit current density (JSC) is enhanced up to 23% at normal incidence (θ=0 deg) as a result of ORMOSIL coating. In addition, JSC enhancement is even higher at larger angles of incidence; 84% enhancement was observed at θ=30 deg. Moreover, ORMOSIL coating is superhydrophobic with a contact angle of 155 deg.