Using an alkoxide-based precursor, a strategy for producing highly uniform thin films and multilayers of V2O5 is demonstrated using dip coating. Defect-free and smooth films of V2O5 on different surfaces can be deposited from liquid precursors. We show how pinholes are formed due to heterogeneous nucleation during hydrolysis as the precursor forms a nanofluid. Using knowledge of instability formation often found in composite nanofluid films and the influence of cluster formation on the stability of these films, we show how polymer-precursor mixtures provide optimum uniformity and very low surface roughness in amorphous V2O5 and also orthorhombic V2O5 after crystallization by heating. Pinhole and roughness instability formation during the liquid stage of the nanofluid on gold and ITO substrates is suppressed giving a uniform coating. Practically, understanding evolution pathways that involve dewetting processes, nucleation, decomposition, or hydrolysis in complex nanofluids provides a route for improved uniformity of thin films. The method could be extended to improve the consistency in sequential or iterative multilayer deposits of a range of liquid precursors for functional materials and coatings.
University College Cork ->