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Photoinduced "stick-slip" on superhydrophilic semiconductor surfaces

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/04/2007
Number of pages9
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Transparent mesoporous TiO2 (M-TiO2) thin films were prepared on quartz via a reverse micelle, sol-gel, spin-coating technique. Films were characterized by atomic force microscopy (AFM) and Raman and UV-vis spectroscopies and were found to be mostly anatase with low surface roughness (Rt approximate to 5 nm). The time dependence of film photoinduced superhydrophilicity (PISH) was measured by observation of the spreading of a sessile water drop using a new, continuous measurement technique wherein the drop was first applied to the semiconductor surface and then was filmed while it and the underlying substrate were illuminated by 315 nm ultraband gap light. Results obtained at 100% relative humidity (RH) at 293 K showed that drops on M-TiO2 surfaces exhibited a photoinduced "stick-slip" behavior, the first time such an effect has been observed. The thermodynamic driving force for this photoinduced stick-slip was the departure of the system from capillary equilibrium as, with increasing illumination time, the concentration of surface Ti-OH groups increased and the equilibrium contact angle of the drop, theta(0), decreased. A simple theoretical description of photoinduced stick-slip is derived and is used to calculate a value of the potential energy barrier associated with surface inhomogeneities that oppose onset of movement of the triple line, U = 6.63 x 10(-6) J m(-1). This is the first time that U has been quantified for a surface with photoinduced superhydrophilicity. Triple line retreat measurements on an evaporating drop on M-TiO2 in the dark, RH = 60%, T = 293 K, gave a value of U = 9.4 x 10(-6) J m(-1), indicating that U decreases upon UV illumination and that U in the light is primarily associated with inhomogeneities that are unaffected by an increase in the surface Ti-OH population, such as the physical roughness of the surface. In the dark evaporation experiment, the drop was found to retreat with an areal velocity of 1.48 x 10(-8) m(2) s(-1). However, under UV illumination, the drop was found to spread at a substantially faster velocity of 2.33 x 10(-5) m(2) s(-1), the latter being of the order of the velocities of 10(-4) m(2) s(-1) observed in (dark) drop-spreading experiments conducted in the presence of trisiloxane surfactant superspreaders. This suggests that, once slip has started, the triple line processes over a thin precursor film of condensed water whose formation has been promoted by the photoinduced increase in the Ti-OH population at the semiconductor surface.