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18-10-2019 | Chemical routes to materials | Issue 5/2020

Journal of Materials Science 5/2020

Mesoporous TiO2 from poly(N,N-dimethylacrylamide)-b-polystyrene block copolymers for long-term acetaldehyde photodegradation

Journal:
Journal of Materials Science > Issue 5/2020
Authors:
Jonas Billet, Stef Vandewalle, Mieke Meire, Natan Blommaerts, Petra Lommens, Sammy W. Verbruggen, Klaartje De Buysser, Filip Du Prez, Isabel Van Driessche
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Abstract

Although already some mesoporous (2–50 nm) sol–gel TiO2 synthesis strategies exist, no pore size control beyond the 12 nm range is possible without using specialized organic structure-directing agents synthetized via controlled anionic/radical polymerizations. Here, we present the use of reversible addition–fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization as a straightforward and industrial applicable alternative to the existing controlled polymerization methods for structure-directing agent synthesis. Poly(N,N-dimethylacrylamide)-block-polystyrene (PDMA-b-PS) block copolymer, synthesized via RAFT, was chosen as structure-directing agent for the formation of the mesoporous TiO2. Crack-free thin layers TiO2 with tunable pores from 8 to 45 nm could be acquired. For the first time, in a detailed and systematic approach, the influence of the block size and dispersity of the block copolymer is experimentally screened for their influence on the final meso-TiO2 layers. As expected, the mesoporous TiO2 pore sizes showed a clear correlation to the polystyrene block size and the dispersity of the PDMA-b-PS block copolymer. Surprisingly, the dispersity of the polymer was shown not to be affecting the standard deviation of the pores. As a consequence, RAFT could be seen as a viable alternative to the aforementioned controlled polymerization reactions for the synthesis of structure-directing agents enabling the formation of mesoporous pore size-controlled TiO2. To examine the photocatalytic activity of the mesoporous TiO2 thin layers, the degradation of acetaldehyde, a known indoor pollutant, was studied. Even after 3 years of aging, the TiO2 thin layer retained most of its activity.

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