Impact of surface topography and hydrophobicity in varied precursor concentrations of tenorite (CuO) films: a study of film properties and photocatalytic efficiency

Sci Rep. 2024 Apr 4;14(1):7928. doi: 10.1038/s41598-024-58744-x.


Semiconductor films are crucial in photocatalysis applications, yet their controlled production remains challenging. Previous studies have mainly focused on deposition processes, heating rates, and doping of semiconductor oxides. In this paper, we introduce a novel method for fabricating tenorite (CuO) semiconductor films with varying precursor concentrations (0.01, 0.02, 0.04, 0.06, and 0.1 g/ml) using a dip-coating technique. We explore the impact of contact angles, 3D surface topography, and film thickness on photoactivation properties, areas with limited previous research focus. The results demonstrate that higher-concentration tenorite films (0.1 g/ml) exhibit rougher surfaces (77.3 nm), increased hydrophobicity (65.61°), improved light-harvesting ability, enhanced charge separation, and higher active oxygen output. The crystal sizes were within the range of 7.3-44.1 nm. Wettability tests show a 21.47% improvement in the 0.1 g/ml film surface under indirect sunlight compared to darkness. Transmittance rates in the 600 nm range were from 0.02 to 90.94%. The direct optical band gaps were 1.21-2.74 eV, while the indirect band gaps remained unaffected (0.9-1.11 eV). Surface morphology analysis reveals an increased presence of grains with higher concentrations. Regarding photocatalysis's impact on film morphology and copper content, SEM images reveal minimal changes in film structure, while copper content remains stable with slight variations. This suggests strong adhesion of tenorite to the film after photocatalysis. Tenorite thin films display exceptional photocatalytic efficiency, making them suitable for practical applications.

Keywords: Dip-coating; Photocatalysis; Surface roughness; Tenorite; Wettability.