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Surfaces, Volume 3, Issue 1 (March 2020) – 11 articles

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Cover Story (view full-size image) Magnetic nanoparticles (MNP) exhibit various interesting properties and are discussed for a rather [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
Surface Functionalization of Magnetic Nanoparticles Using a Thiol-Based Grafting-Through Approach
Surfaces 2020, 3(1), 116-131; https://doi.org/10.3390/surfaces3010011 - 18 Mar 2020
Viewed by 326
Abstract
Here we describe a simple and straightforward synthesis of different multifunctional magnetic nanoparticles by using surface bound thiol-groups as transfer agents in a free radical polymerization process. The modification includes a first step of surface silanization with (3-mercaptopropyl)trimethoxysilane to obtain thiol-modified nanoparticles, which [...] Read more.
Here we describe a simple and straightforward synthesis of different multifunctional magnetic nanoparticles by using surface bound thiol-groups as transfer agents in a free radical polymerization process. The modification includes a first step of surface silanization with (3-mercaptopropyl)trimethoxysilane to obtain thiol-modified nanoparticles, which are further used as a platform for modification with a broad variety of polymers. The silanization was optimized in terms of shell thickness and particle size distribution, and the obtained materials were investigated by dynamic light scattering (DLS), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX). Subsequently, the free radical polymerization of different monomers (tert-butyl acrylate (tBA), methyl methacrylate (MMA), styrene, 2-vinyl pyridine (2VP), and N-isopropylacrylamide (NIPAAm)) was examined in the presence of the thiol-modified nanoparticles. During the process, a covalently anchored polymeric shell was formed and the resulting core–shell hybrid materials were analyzed in terms of size (DLS, TEM), shell thickness (TGA, TEM), and the presence of functional groups (attenuated total reflectance Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FT-IR)). Hereby, the shell leads to a different solution behavior of the particles and in some cases an increased stability towards acids. Moreover, we examined the influence of the nanoparticle concentration during polymerization and we found a significant influence on dispersity of the resulting polymers. Finally, we compared the characteristics of the surface bound polymer and polymer formed in solution for the case of polystyrene. The herein presented approach provides straightforward access to a wide range of core–shell nanocomposites. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Multilayer WO3/BiVO4 Photoanodes for Solar-Driven Water Splitting Prepared by RF-Plasma Sputtering
Surfaces 2020, 3(1), 105-115; https://doi.org/10.3390/surfaces3010010 - 13 Mar 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 417
Abstract
A series of WO3, BiVO4 and WO3/BiVO4 heterojunction coatings were deposited on fluorine-doped tin oxide (FTO), by means of reactive radio frequency (RF) plasma (co)sputtering, and tested as photoanodes for water splitting under simulated AM 1.5 G [...] Read more.
A series of WO3, BiVO4 and WO3/BiVO4 heterojunction coatings were deposited on fluorine-doped tin oxide (FTO), by means of reactive radio frequency (RF) plasma (co)sputtering, and tested as photoanodes for water splitting under simulated AM 1.5 G solar light in a three-electrode photoelectrochemical (PEC) cell in a 0.5 M NaSO4 electrolyte solution. The PEC performance and time stability of the heterojunction increases with an increase of the WO3 innermost layer up to 1000 nm. A two-step calcination treatment (600 °C after WO3 deposition followed by 400 °C after BiVO4 deposition) led to a most performing photoanode under back-side irradiation, generating a photocurrent density of 1.7 mA cm−2 at 1.4 V vs. SCE (i.e., two-fold and five-fold higher than that generated by individual WO3 and BiVO4 photoanodes, respectively). The incident photon to current efficiency (IPCE) measurements reveal the presence of two activity regions over the heterojunction with respect to WO3 alone: The PEC efficiency increases due to improved charge carrier separation above 450 nm (i.e., below the WO3 excitation energy), while it decreases below 450 nm (i.e., when both semiconductors are excited) due to electron–hole recombination at the interface of the two semiconductors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Surface Aspects of Semiconductor Photochemistry)
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Open AccessArticle
Hydrogenation of ZnFe2O4 Flat Films: Effects of the Pre-Annealing Temperature on the Photoanodes Efficiency for Water Oxidation
Surfaces 2020, 3(1), 93-104; https://doi.org/10.3390/surfaces3010009 - 12 Mar 2020
Viewed by 326
Abstract
The effects induced by post-synthesis hydrogenation on ZnFe2O4 flat films in terms of photoelectrochemical (PEC) performance of photoanodes for water oxidation have been deeply investigated as a function of the pre-annealing temperature of the materials. The structure and morphology of [...] Read more.
The effects induced by post-synthesis hydrogenation on ZnFe2O4 flat films in terms of photoelectrochemical (PEC) performance of photoanodes for water oxidation have been deeply investigated as a function of the pre-annealing temperature of the materials. The structure and morphology of the films greatly affect the efficacy of the post synthesis treatment. In fact, highly compact films are obtained upon pre-annealing at high temperatures, and this limits the exposure of the material bulk to the reductive H2 atmosphere, making the treatment largely ineffective. On the other hand, a mild hydrogen treatment greatly enhances the separation of photoproduced charges in films pre-annealed at lower temperatures, as a result of the introduction of oxygen vacancies with n-type character. A comparison between present results and those obtained with ZnFe2O4 nanorods clearly demonstrates that specific structural and/or surface properties, together with the initial film morphology, differently affect the overall contribution of post-synthesis hydrogenation on the efficiency of zinc ferrite-based photoanodes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Surface Aspects of Semiconductor Photochemistry)
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Open AccessReview
Recent Advancements in the Understanding of the Surface Chemistry in TiO2 Photocatalysis
Surfaces 2020, 3(1), 72-92; https://doi.org/10.3390/surfaces3010008 - 18 Feb 2020
Viewed by 535
Abstract
Surface chemistry plays a major role in photocatalytic and photoelectrochemical processes taking place with the participation of TiO2. The synthesis methods, surface characterizations, theoretical research methods, and hardware over the last decade generated opportunities for progress in the surface science of [...] Read more.
Surface chemistry plays a major role in photocatalytic and photoelectrochemical processes taking place with the participation of TiO2. The synthesis methods, surface characterizations, theoretical research methods, and hardware over the last decade generated opportunities for progress in the surface science of this photocatalyst. Very recently, attention was paid to the design of photocatalysts at the nanoscale level by adjusting the types of exposed surfaces and their ratio, the composition and the surface structure of nanoparticles, and that of individual surfaces. The current theoretical methods provide highly detailed designs that can be embodied experimentally. The present review article describes the progress in the surface science of TiO2 and TiO2-based photocatalysts obtained over the last three years. Such aspects including the properties of macro- and nano-scale surfaces, noble-metal-loaded surfaces, doping with Mg and S, intrinsic defects (oxygen vacancies), adsorption, and photoreactions are considered. The main focus of the article is on the anatase phase of TiO2. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Surface Aspects of Semiconductor Photochemistry)
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Open AccessArticle
H-Terminated Diamond Surface Band Bending Characterization by Angle-Resolved XPS
Surfaces 2020, 3(1), 61-71; https://doi.org/10.3390/surfaces3010007 - 18 Feb 2020
Viewed by 551
Abstract
Concerning diamond-based electronic devices, the H-terminated diamond surface is one of the most used terminations as it can be obtained directly by using H2 plasma, which also is a key step for diamond growth by chemical vapour deposition (CVD). The resultant surfaces [...] Read more.
Concerning diamond-based electronic devices, the H-terminated diamond surface is one of the most used terminations as it can be obtained directly by using H2 plasma, which also is a key step for diamond growth by chemical vapour deposition (CVD). The resultant surfaces present a p-type surface conductive layer with interest in power electronic applications. However, the mechanism for this behavior is still under discussion. Upward band bending due to surface transfer doping is the most accepted model, but has not been experimentally probed as of yet. Recently, a downward band bending very near the surface due to shallow acceptors has been proposed to coexist with surface transfer doping, explaining most of the observed phenomena. In this work, a new approach to the measurement of band bending by angle-resolved X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (ARXPS) is proposed. Based on this new interpretation, a downward band bending of 0.67 eV extended over 0.5 nm was evidenced on a (100) H-terminated diamond surface. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Citric Acid Regulated Fabrication of Macroporous TiO2
Surfaces 2020, 3(1), 50-60; https://doi.org/10.3390/surfaces3010006 - 03 Feb 2020
Viewed by 409
Abstract
Macroporous TiO2 monolith was prepared by a microphase separation method. After citric acid was added to the synthesis procedure, the yield of the titanium precursor has been significantly increased, and the stability of macroporous structure can be obviously enhanced. Anatase and rutile [...] Read more.
Macroporous TiO2 monolith was prepared by a microphase separation method. After citric acid was added to the synthesis procedure, the yield of the titanium precursor has been significantly increased, and the stability of macroporous structure can be obviously enhanced. Anatase and rutile phase of TiO2 were obtained after a 550 °C and 800 °C calcination, respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Surface Aspects of Semiconductor Photochemistry)
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Open AccessEditorial
Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Surfaces in 2019
Surfaces 2020, 3(1), 48-49; https://doi.org/10.3390/surfaces3010005 - 22 Jan 2020
Viewed by 370
Abstract
The editorial team greatly appreciates the reviewers who have dedicated their considerable time and expertise to the journal’s rigorous editorial process over the past 12 months, regardless of whether the papers are finally published or not [...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
Tuning the Catalytic Activity of a Quantum Nutcracker for Hydrogen Dissociation
Surfaces 2020, 3(1), 40-47; https://doi.org/10.3390/surfaces3010004 - 20 Jan 2020
Viewed by 456
Abstract
A quantum nutcracker, a recently proposed catalytic system for hydrogen dissociation, consists of two inert components: an organic molecule such as a transition metal phthalocyanine and an inert surface such as Cu or Au. The reaction takes place at the interface between the [...] Read more.
A quantum nutcracker, a recently proposed catalytic system for hydrogen dissociation, consists of two inert components: an organic molecule such as a transition metal phthalocyanine and an inert surface such as Cu or Au. The reaction takes place at the interface between the two components, which are weakly bonded by Van der Waals (VdW) forces. Here, we explore a method used to tune the reaction barrier in a quantum nutcracker system for hydrogen dissociation. By employing density-functional-theory calculations, we find that the H2 entry barrier, which is the rate-limiting barrier, is reduced by replacing the phthalocyanine by porphyrin derivatives such as octaethylporphyrin (OEP) and tetraphenylporphyrin (TPP). The system remains active if a dissociated H atom is adsorbed on the transition metal ion. Metallic two-dimensional materials such as NbS2 and CoS2 are good candidates for the quantum nutcracker. The present design of a quantum nutcracker for hydrogen dissociation provides new opportunities with which to induce catalytic activity in VdW-bonded systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Surface Science and Catalysis of Graphene-Related 2D Materials)
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Open AccessReview
Overview of Rational Design of Binary Alloy for the Synthesis of Two-Dimensional Materials
Surfaces 2020, 3(1), 26-39; https://doi.org/10.3390/surfaces3010003 - 15 Jan 2020
Viewed by 496
Abstract
Two-dimensional (2D) materials attracted widespread interest as unique and novel properties different from their bulk crystals, providing great potential for semiconductor devices and applications. Recently, the family of 2D materials has been expanded including but not limited to graphene, hexagonal boron nitride ( [...] Read more.
Two-dimensional (2D) materials attracted widespread interest as unique and novel properties different from their bulk crystals, providing great potential for semiconductor devices and applications. Recently, the family of 2D materials has been expanded including but not limited to graphene, hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN), transition metal carbides (TMCs), and transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs). Metal-catalyzed chemical vapor deposition (CVD) is an effective method to achieve precise synthesis of these 2D materials. In this review, we focus on designing various binary alloys to realize controllable synthesis of multiple CVD-grown 2D materials and their heterostructures for both fundamental research and practical applications. Further investigations indicated that the design of the catalytic substrate is an important issue, which determines the morphology, domain size, thickness and quality of 2D materials and their heterostructures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Surface Science and Catalysis of Graphene-Related 2D Materials)
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Open AccessArticle
Digitally Printed AgNPs Doped TiO2 on Commercial Porcelain-Grès Tiles: Synergistic Effects and Continuous Photocatalytic Antibacterial Activity
Surfaces 2020, 3(1), 11-25; https://doi.org/10.3390/surfaces3010002 - 14 Jan 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 648
Abstract
In the present study, we use commercial digitally printed ceramic tiles, functionnalized by AgNPs doped micro–TiO2, to investigate the mechanism of Ag in the continouos photocatalytic antibacterial activity. The novelty of the research lies in the attempt to understand the mechanism [...] Read more.
In the present study, we use commercial digitally printed ceramic tiles, functionnalized by AgNPs doped micro–TiO2, to investigate the mechanism of Ag in the continouos photocatalytic antibacterial activity. The novelty of the research lies in the attempt to understand the mechanism of Ag, supported on TiO2, able to exhibit the same antibacterial activity of a standard system containing Ag species, but here, totally embedded on the tile surface, and thus not free to move and damage the bacteria cell. UV/vis diffuse reflectance spectroscopy (DRS) of AgNPs–TiO2 tiles indicated an enhanced visible light response, wherein a new absorption band was produced around 18,000–20,000 cm−1 (i.e., in the 400–600 nm range) owing to the surface plasmon resonance (SPR) of AgNPs. The antibacterial photocatalytic experiments were conducted towards the inactivation of E. coli under solar light and indoor light. It was found that the degradation speed of E. coli in the presence of AgNPs–TiO2 tiles is solar light-intensity depending. This justifies the semiconductor behavior of the material. Furthermore, the AgNPs–TiO2 tiles exhibit a high ability for the inactivation of E. coli at a high load (104–107 colony-forming unit (CFU)/mL). Additionally, AgNPs–TiO2 tiles showed a remarkable antibacterial activity under indoor light, which confirms the good photocatalytic ability of such tiles. On the basis of the reactive oxygen species (ROS) quenching experiments, O2•− species and h+ were more reactive for the inactivation of E. coli rather than OH species. This is because of the different lifetime (bacteria are more likely oxidized by ROS with longer lifetime); in fact, O2•− and h+ exhibit a longer lifetime compared with OH species. The generation of H2O2 as the most stable ROS molecule was also suggested. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Surface Aspects of Semiconductor Photochemistry)
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Open AccessArticle
Hybrid Cathodes Composed of K3V2(PO4)3 and Carbon Materials with Boosted Charge Transfer for K-Ion Batteries
Surfaces 2020, 3(1), 1-10; https://doi.org/10.3390/surfaces3010001 - 11 Jan 2020
Viewed by 542
Abstract
K-ion batteries (KIBs) have emerged as an auspicious alternative to Li-ion batteries (LIBs) owing to their uniform distribution, plentiful reserves, the low cost of K resources, and their similar physicochemical properties to Li resources. The development of KIBs is seriously limited by cathode [...] Read more.
K-ion batteries (KIBs) have emerged as an auspicious alternative to Li-ion batteries (LIBs) owing to their uniform distribution, plentiful reserves, the low cost of K resources, and their similar physicochemical properties to Li resources. The development of KIBs is seriously limited by cathode materials. Here, a hybrid of K3V2(PO4)3 (KVP) particles triple-coated by amorphous carbon, carbon nanotubes (CNTs), and reduced graphene oxide (rGO) nanosheets (KVP/C/CNT/rGO) was fabricated by a facile ball milling process followed by heat treatment. Consequently, a stable capacity of 57 mAh g−1 can be achieved at 0.2C, and a slow capacity decaying rate (0.06% per cycle) is displayed during 500 cycles under a high current density of 5C. The remarkable reversible capacity and excellent long-term cycling life are mainly due to the enhanced interwoven C/CNT/rGO networks and superior KVP crystal structure stability, which can provide multi-channel for fast electron transport and effective K+ diffusion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Surface Science and Catalysis of Graphene-Related 2D Materials)
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