Electrochemical properties of core-shell TiC–TiO2 nanoparticle films immobilized at ITO electrode surfaces

Titanium carbide (TiC) nanoparticles are readily deposited onto tin-doped indium oxide (ITO) electrodes in the form of thin porous films. The nanoparticle deposits are electrically highly conducting and electrochemically active. In aqueous media (at pH 7) and at applied potentials positive of 0.3 V vs. SCE partial anodic surface oxidation and formation (at least in part) of novel core-shell TiC-TiO2 nanoparticles is observed. Significant thermal oxidation of TiC nanoparticles by heating in air occurs at a temperature of 250 oC and is leading first to core-shell TiC-TiO2 nanoparticles, next at ca. 350 oC to TiO2 (anatase), and finally at temperature higher than 750 oC to TiO2 (rutile). Electrochemically and thermally partially oxidized TiC nanoparticles still remain very active and for some redox systems electrocatalytically active. Scanning and transmission electron microscopy (SEM and TEM), temperature dependent XRD, quartz crystal microbalance, and voltammetric measurements are reported. The electrocatalytic properties of the core-shell TiC-TiO2 nanoparticulate films are surveyed for the oxidation of hydroquinone, ascorbic acid, and dopamine in aqueous buffer media. In TiC-TiO2 core-shell nanoparticle films TiO2 surface reactivity can be combined with TiC conductivity.