Controlling the Wettability of ZnO Thin Films by Spray Pyrolysis for Photocatalytic Applications


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Herein, we synthesized the zinc oxide (ZnO) thin films (TFs) deposited on glass substrates via spray pyrolysis (SP) to prepare self-cleaning glass. Various process parameters were used to optimize photocatalytic performance. Substrates were coated at room temperature (RT) and 250 degrees C with a 1 mL or 2 mL ZnO solution while maintaining a distance from the spray gun to the substrate of 20 cm or 30 cm. Several characterization techniques, i.e., XRD, SEM, AFM, and UV-Vis were used to determine the structural, morphological, and optical characteristics of the prepared samples. The wettability of the samples was evaluated using contact angle measurements. As ZnO is hydrophilic in nature, the RT deposited samples showed a hydrophilic character, whereas the ZnO TFs deposited at 250 degrees C demonstrated a hydrophobic character. The XRD results showed a higher degree of crystallinity for samples deposited on heated substrates. Because of this higher crystallinity, the surface energy decreased, and the contact angle increased. Moreover, by using 2 mL solution, better surface coverage and roughness were obtained for the ZnO TFs. However, by exploiting the distance of the spray to the samples size distribution and surface coverage can be controlled, the samples deposited at 30 mL showed a uniform particle size distribution from 30-40 nm. In addition, the photoactivity of the samples was tested by the degradation of rhodamine B dye. Substrates prepared with a 2 mL solution sprayed at 20 cm showed higher dye degradation than other samples, which can play a vital role in self-cleaning. Hence, by changing the said parameters, the ZnO thin film properties on glass substrates were optimized for self-cleaning diversity.
zinc oxide thin films, spray pyrolysis, contact angle, photocatalysis, rhodamine B, wettability
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