Ellipsometric and nanogravimetric porosimetry studies of nanostructured, mesoporous electrodes
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Nanostructured, porous materials offer great promise for application in areas such as energy storage, photovoltaics, and catalysis. These materials are often difficult to characterize because they are structurally and compositionally inhomogeneous, and disordered with features to small to be resolved by scanning probe techniques such as atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). These shortcomings require that new techniques be developed that can be applied to real world systems to elucidate how the interplay of material composition and structure alters their performance. Towards this end, the development of a hybrid quartz crystal microbalance/ ellipsometric porosimetry (QCM/EP) technique is being pursued to facilitate the determination of a number of material parameters such as porosity, pore size distribution, and surface area. Additionally, the use of adsorbate probe molecules of varying polarity gives further information about adsorbate-surface interactions and surface chemistry characteristics. Simultaneous acquisition of both mass-based and refractive index based adsorption isotherms fosters mechanistic understanding about the behavior of adsorbates confined in mesopores while at the same time reducing the uncertainty in the analysis of the optical parameters acquired via ellipsometry. To highlight the power of this approach, studies of TiO₂ and TiC, electrode materials as model systems will be presented that have helped us validate measurement and modeling protocols for extracting physical properties.