In-Operando Diffraction and Spectroscopic Evaluation of Pure, Zr-, and Ce-Doped Vanadium Dioxide Thermochromic Films Derived via Glycolate Synthesis

Nanomaterials (Basel). 2020 Dec 17;10(12):2537. doi: 10.3390/nano10122537.


Pure and doped vanadia (VO2, V0.98Zr0.02O2, V0.98Ce0.02O2) samples were prepared by wet chemistry synthesis from vanadyl glycolate intermediate phase and tape casted into films. Combining in-operando grazing incidence synchrotron X-ray diffraction and Raman spectroscopy, we studied the structural evolution of the films under isothermal conditions. The setup allowed assessment of the thermochromic functionality with continuous monitoring of the monoclinic to tetragonal transition in pure and doped vanadia phases, responsible for the transmission and reflection of light in the infrared part of the solar spectrum. The materials characterisation by X-ray diffraction beamline (MCX) goniometer demonstrated ideal performance, combining flexible geometry, high resolution, and the potential to accommodate the multi-channel equipment for in-operando characterisation. This method proved viable for evaluating the relevant structural and physical, and thereof functional properties of these systems. We revealed that dopants reduce the transition temperature by 5 °C on average. The synthetic route of the films was held responsible for the observed phase separation. The more favourable behaviour of cerium-doped sample was attributed to cerium alkoxide behaviour. In addition, structural, microstructural, thermal, and spectroscopic characterisation on powder samples was performed to gain more insight into the development of the phases that are responsible for thermochromic features in a broader range of doping ratios. The influence of the dopants on the extent of the thermochromic transition (transmission to reflection hysteresis) was also evaluated using (micro) structural, thermal and spectroscopic methods of powder samples. Characterisations showed that zirconium doping in 2, 4, and 6 mol% significantly influenced the phase composition and morphology of the precursor. Vanadium oxides other than VO2 can easily crystallise; however, a thermal treatment regime that allowed crystallisation of VO2 as a single phase was established.

Keywords: Ce-doping; GIXRD-Raman f(T) setup; IR transmission/reflection; Zr-doping; in-operando; multi-channel characterisation; smart window; structural properties; thermochromic transition; vanadium dioxide.