In this work the effect of pH and the titanium precursor on the cluster and particle formation during titanium alkoxide based sol–gel processes was investigated using electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) and dynamic light scattering (DLS). The influence of pH and the titanium precursor on the particle size, morphology, crystallinity and chemical composition of the resulting particles were investigated using differentiel scanning calometry (DSC), X-ray diffraction (XRD), Fourier transformation infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), BET-adsorption isotherms and high resolution transmission electron microscopy (HR-TEM). ESI-MS investigation of the titanium clusters present during the nucleation and growth period showed that the number of titanium atoms in the clusters varied dependent on the alkoxide used. Moreover, it was found that the titanium clusters formed using titanium tetraethoxide (TTE) were smaller than the clusters formed by titanium tetraisopropoxide (TTIP) and titanium tetrabutoxide (TTB) under similar conditions. pH was not found to influence the nature of the titanium clusters present in the sol–gel solution. HR-TEM investigation of the TiO2 particles prepared at pH 7 and 10 showed that the primary particle size of the particles was around 3 nm. However, it was found that these primary particles aggregated to form larger secondary particles in the size order of 300–500 nm range. At pH 3 the particles grew significantly during the drying process due to destabilization of the colloidal solution leading to the formation of a gel. The highest specific surface area was found for particles synthesized under neutral or alkaline conditions based on TTIP. XRD analysis of the TiO2 particles showed that the particles synthesized at 25 °C were amorphous. First after heating the samples to above 300 °C the formation of anatase were observed.
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Simonsen, M.E., Søgaard, E.G. Sol–gel reactions of titanium alkoxides and water: influence of pH and alkoxy group on cluster formation and properties of the resulting products. J Sol-Gel Sci Technol 53, 485–497 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-009-2121-0
- Sol–gel process
- Particle morphology