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Effect of sol-gel preparation method on particle morphology in pure and nanocomposite PZT thin films

Helena Bruncková, Ľubomír Medvecký, and Pavol Hvizdoš

Institute of Materials Research, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Watsonova 47, 040 01 Košice, Slovakia



Abstract: Double-scale composite lead zirconate titanate Pb(Zr0.52Ti0.48)O3 (PZT) thin films of 360 nm thickness were prepared by a modified composite sol-gel method. PZT films were deposited from both the pure sol and the composite suspension on Pt/Al2O3 substrates by the spin-coating method and were sintered at 650°C. The composite suspension formed after ultrasonic mixing of the PZT nanopowder and PZT sol at the powder/sol mass concentration 0.5 g mL−1. PZT nanopowder (≈ 40–70 nm) was prepared using the conventional sol-gel method and calcination at 500°C. Pure PZT sol was prepared by a modified sol-gel method using a propan-1-ol/propane-1,2-diol mixture as a stabilizing solution. X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis indicated that the thin films possess a single perovskite phase after their sintering at 650°C. The results of scanning electron microscope (SEM), energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX), atomic force microscopy (AFM), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analyses confirmed that the roughness of double-scale composite PZT films (≈ 17 nm) was significantly lower than that of PZT films prepared from pure sol (≈ 40 nm). The composite film consisted of nanosized PZT powder uniformly dispersed in the PZT matrix. In the surface micrograph of the film derived from sol, large round perovskite particles (≈ 100 nm) composed of small spherical individual nanoparticles (≈ 60 nm) were observed. The composite PZT film had a higher crystallinity degree and smoother surface morphology with necklace clusters of nanopowder particles in the sol-gel matrix compared to the pure PZT film. Microstructure of the composite PZT film can be characterized by a bimodal particle size distribution containing spherical perovskite particles from added PZT nanopowder and round perovskite particles from the sol-matrix, (≈ 30–50 nm and ≈ 100–120 nm), respectively. Effect of the PZT film preparation method on the morphology of pure and composite PZT thin films deposited on Pt/Al2O3 substrates was evaluated.

Keywords: sol-gel – composite – PZT thin film – spin-coating – perovskite phase – morphology

Full paper is available at

DOI: 10.2478/s11696-011-0051-0


Chemical Papers 65 (5) 682–690 (2011)

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