In order to circumvent the usual nucleation of randomly distributed tiny metallic dots photodeposited on TiO2 nanoparticles (NPs) induced by conventional UV lamps, we propose to synthesize well-controlled nanoheterodimers (NHDs) using lasers focused inside microfluidic reactors to strongly photoactivate redox reactions of active ions flowing along with nanoparticles in water solution. Since the flux of photons issued from a focused laser may be orders of magnitude higher than that reachable with classical lamps, the production of electron-hole pairs is tremendously increased, ensuring a large availability of carriers for the deposition and favoring the growth of a single metallic dot as compared to secondary nucleation events. We show that the growth of single silver or gold nanodots can be controlled by varying the beam intensity, the concentration of the metallic salt, and the flow velocity inside the microreactor. The confrontation to a build-in model of the metallic nanodot light-induced growth onto the surface of TiO2 NPs shows the emergence of a predictable "master behavior" on which individual growths obtained from various tested conditions do collapse. We also characterized the associated quantum yield. Eventually, we successfully confronted our model to growth data from the literature in the case of silver on TiO2 and gold on II-VI semiconducting NPs triggered by UV lamps. It shows that for the photosynthesis of NHDs the efficiency of the electron-hole pair production rate matters much more than the number of pairs produced and that the use of laser light can provide a photodeposition-based synthesis at the nanoscale.
Design of Metal@Titanium Oxide Nano-heterodimers by Laser-Driven Photodeposition: Growth Mechanism and Modeling
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