Understanding Pore Formation in ALD Alumina Overcoats

Cassandra George, Patrick Littlewood, Peter C. Stair*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


AlOX thin films deposited by atomic layer deposition (ALD) have previously been used to increase both stability and selectivity of supported palladium catalysts and are known to develop nanoscale porosity upon heating. Understanding the factors that affect ALD thin-film porosity enables future design of layered catalytic structures with tunable nanoscale features on industrially-relevant high-surface-area materials. In this study, porous and nonporous aluminum oxide supports with and without palladium nanoparticles were overcoated with thin films of 2-7 nm AlOX by ALD deposited at temperatures of 100, 200, and 300 °C. Hydroxyl loss and changes in surface chemistry were observed upon heating the films, and changes in surface area and pore volume of the annealed films were correlated to AlOX deposition temperature and the presence of Pd. Crystallization of the overcoat to γ-Al2O3 is shown to occur separately from hydroxyl loss and pore formation. A mechanistic understanding of pore formation in AlOX ALD films is obtained by reference to studies of the structural transformations accompanying the formation of transition aluminas from hydroxide precursors. Additionally, a direct and tunable correlation is established between pore development and the overall hydroxyl content of AlOX ALD coatings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20331-20343
Number of pages13
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number18
StatePublished - May 6 2020


  • ALD
  • nanoparticles
  • porosity
  • selective catalysis
  • thin films

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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