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Inorganic Hollow Nanotube Aerogels by Atomic Layer Deposition onto Native Nanocellulose Templates

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Molecular Materials, Department of Applied Physics, Aalto University (formerly Helsinki University of Technology), Puumiehenkuja 2, 02150 Espoo, Finland
Laboratory of Inorganic Chemistry, Aalto University, Kemistintie 1, 02150 Espoo, Finland
*Address correspondence to [email protected]
Cite this: ACS Nano 2011, 5, 3, 1967–1974
Publication Date (Web):March 1, 2011
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society

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    Hollow nano-objects have raised interest in applications such as sensing, encapsulation, and drug-release. Here we report on a new class of porous materials, namely inorganic nanotube aerogels that, unlike other aerogels, have a framework consisting of inorganic hollow nanotubes. First we show a preparation method for titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and aluminum oxide nanotube aerogels based on atomic layer deposition (ALD) on biological nanofibrillar aerogel templates, that is, nanofibrillated cellulose (NFC), also called microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) or nanocellulose. The aerogel templates are prepared from nanocellulose hydrogels either by freeze-drying in liquid nitrogen or liquid propane or by supercritical drying, and they consist of a highly porous percolating network of cellulose nanofibrils. They can be prepared as films on substrates or as freestanding objects. We show that, in contrast to freeze-drying, supercritical drying produces nanocellulose aerogels without major interfibrillar aggregation even in thick films. Uniform oxide layers are readily deposited by ALD onto the fibrils leading to organic−inorganic core−shell nanofibers. We further demonstrate that calcination at 450 °C removes the organic core leading to purely inorganic self-supporting aerogels consisting of hollow nanotubular networks. They can also be dispersed by grinding, for example, in ethanol to create a slurry of inorganic hollow nanotubes, which in turn can be deposited to form a porous film. Finally we demonstrate the use of a titanium dioxide nanotube network as a resistive humidity sensor with a fast response.

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    Inorganic layer thickness data (S1), larger SEM micrographs of single nanocellulose fibrils (S2), several samples demonstrating differences in preparation methods (S3, S4) and different coatings (S5−S7), XRD data for a TiO2 nanotube film (S8). This material is available free of charge via the Internet at

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