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Open AccessArticle

Evaluation of the Dispersion Stability of AZO Mesocrystals for Their Processing into Functional Thin Films Using Small Angle X-ray Scattering

1
Institute for Mechanical Process Engineering and Mechanics, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Kaiserstraße 12, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany
2
Institute for Particle Technology and Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Volkmaroder Str. 5, 38104 Braunschweig, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Crystals 2020, 10(5), 374; https://doi.org/10.3390/cryst10050374
Received: 7 April 2020 / Revised: 29 April 2020 / Accepted: 4 May 2020 / Published: 6 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mesocrystals in Energy Applications)
Within the scope of the comprehensive elucidation of the entire process chain for the production of highly functional thin films made of semiconducting aluminum-doped zinc oxide ( A Z O ) nanocrystals, this work deals with the detailed investigation of the stabilization sub-process, considering the requirements for the subsequent coating process. An innovative investigation procedure using non-invasive small angle X-ray scattering ( S A X S ) is developed, enabling an evaluation of qualitative and quantitative dispersion stability criteria of sterically stabilized A Z O nanocrystals. On the one hand, qualitative criteria for minimizing layer inhomogeneities due to sedimentation as well as aggregate formation are discussed, enabling a high particle occupancy density. On the other hand, a procedure for determining the A Z O concentration using S A X S , both in the stable phase and in the non-stabilized phase, is demonstrated to provide a quantitative evaluation of the stabilization success, having a significant impact on the final layer thickness. The obtained insights offer a versatile tool for the precise stabilization process control based on synthesis process using S A X S to meet coating specific requirements and thus a successful integration into the entire process chain for the production of functional A Z O thin films. View Full-Text
Keywords: aluminum-doped zinc oxide; mesocrystals; non-invasive SAXS analysis; dispersion stability criteria; particle morphology; transparent conductive oxide; functional thin films aluminum-doped zinc oxide; mesocrystals; non-invasive SAXS analysis; dispersion stability criteria; particle morphology; transparent conductive oxide; functional thin films
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MDPI and ACS Style

Ungerer, J.; Thurm, A.-K.; Garnweitner, G.; Nirschl, H. Evaluation of the Dispersion Stability of AZO Mesocrystals for Their Processing into Functional Thin Films Using Small Angle X-ray Scattering. Crystals 2020, 10, 374.

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