We report on a combined chemical vapor deposition (CVD)/radio frequency (RF) sputtering synthetic strategy for the controlled surface modification of ZnO nanostructures by Ti-containing species. Specifically, the proposed approach consists in the CVD of grown-on-tip ZnO nanopyramids, followed by titanium RF sputtering under mild conditions. The results obtained by a thorough characterization demonstrate the successful ZnO surface functionalization with dispersed Ti-containing species in low amounts. This phenomenon, in turn, yields a remarkable enhancement of photoactivated superhydrophilic behavior, self-cleaning ability, and photocatalytic performances in comparison to bare ZnO. The reasons accounting for such an improvement are unravelled by a multitechnique analysis, elucidating the interplay between material chemico-physical properties and the corresponding functional behavior. Overall, the proposed strategy stands as an amenable tool for the mastering of semiconductor-based functional nanoarchitectures through ad hoc engineering of the system surface.
- ZnO-based nanomaterials
- photoinduced superhydrophilicity
- surface engineering