New infrared-assisted method for sol-gel derived ZnO:Ag thin films: Structural and bacterial inhibition properties

Brenely González-Penguelly, Ángel de Jesús Morales-Ramírez, Miriam Guadalupe Rodríguez-Rosales, Celestino Odín Rodríguez-Nava, María Luz Carrera-Jota

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7 Scopus citations


A new sol-gel method, based on crystallization with Infrared heating, was developed to obtain ZnO:Ag thin films. The common sol, with zinc acetate as precursor and silver nitrate as doping source (1, 3 and 5 % molar), isopropanol and distilled water as solvents and monoethanolamine as stabilizer agent; was modified with Pluronic F127 and diethylene glycol as rheological agents, and with urea as fuel to produce enough energy to the combustion and to promote the crystallization process. Later, Corning glass-substrates were dipped into the sol at a constant speed of 3 mm s− 1. To provide the necessary energy for obtaining the hexagonal ZnO structure of the coatings during the drying and consolidation process, instead of using the common furnace heat-treatment, the films were heated by means of an infrared (IR) ceramic lamp (800 W) for 15, 30, 45, 60 and 180 minutes, and the effect of this annealing method was analyzed. The structural properties were examined by means of X-ray diffraction (XRD) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), whereas morphology was studied by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The examination revealed a homogeneous distribution of particles with the characteristic pores of pluronic F127, and the coating roughness had an average value of 100 nm by AFM. To evaluate the effect on the number of dipping cycles and the IR-treatment on the thickness, ellipsometry results for 1, 3 and 5 deposits were analyzed and showed increments of 780, 945 and 1082 nm, respectively. Finally, to test of the antibacterial activity, instead of the common one-microorganism approach, environmental microorganisms that grow with expose of the broth to the ambient conditions were employed (microbial consortium), which is a real environmental condition. The biological test was carried out by kinetic growth inhibition (optical density) of heterotrophic bacteria in culture liquid media under conditions of light, light-dark and darkness, to analyze the effect of light. A significance reduction in growth was obtained for doped coatings with silver in comparison with the control ZnO substrate. Furthermore, the analysis bacteria growth inhibition on a solid surface showed that the films effectively present antibacterial activity. The best result was obtained with ZnO:Ag 1% in light conditions, about 67%, but all the coatings inhibited the bacterial activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)833-841
Number of pages9
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering C
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2017


  • Antibacterial thin films
  • Infrared heat-treatment
  • Sol-gel
  • Zinc oxide


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