Electric field assisted dissolution in thin optical films - nanostructuring, doping, porous layers
The ion exchange process has been used for hundreds of years in production of stained glass windows. A solid metal film can be used as the dopant source. Moderate annealing and electric field are applied to enhance the penetration of dopant ions. Recent research has shown that these conditions enable the dissolution of metal nanoparticles (NP), whether they are embedded in glass, dielectric thin film or multilayer system. This process in known as electric field assisted dissolution (EFAD). It opens many different possibilities. EFAD applied to NP embedded in dielectric matrix results in pores remaining on the positions of NP. If structured electrode is applied to NP containing system, the pattern from the electrode is copied onto the system. By annealing a metal ion doped substrate, metal NP form in the substrate. Very recent research has shown that annealing in hydrogen atmosphere makes metal ions diffuse to the surface, forming pattern inverse to the one of the applied electrode.
All of this presents numerous possibilities of EFAD: doping, porous layers formation and restructuring. However, despite of EFAD great potential, scientific activities involving this process remain modest, at the level of a fundamental research and applied only for Ag NP nanocomposite glass preparation. This project will systematically study EFAD as a method for doping of different kinds of substrates and for preparation of porous layers. The project will not be limited merely to fundamental research. The obtained results will be applied to improve characteristics of rechargeable thin film lithium batteries and fabrication of nanostructures by reverse restructuring. Due to the significant potential of EFAD, part of time and resources will be devoted to the other applications as well.