The use of ozone as an oxidizing agent for atomic layer deposition (ALD) processes is rapidly growing due to its strong oxidizing capabilities. However, the effect of ozone on nanostructured substrates such as nitrogen-doped multiwalled carbon nanotubes (NCNTs) and pristine multiwalled carbon nanotubes (PCNTs) are not very well understood and may provide an avenue toward functionalizing the carbon nanotube surface prior to deposition. The effects of ALD ozone treatment on NCNTs and PCNTs using 10 wt. % ozone at temperatures of 150, 250, and 300 °C are studied. The effect of ozone pulse time and ALD cycle number on NCNTs and PCNTs was also investigated. Morphological changes to the substrate were observed by scanning electron microscopy and high resolution transmission electron microscopy. Brunauer-Emmett-Teller measurements were also conducted to determine surface area, pore size, and pore size distribution following ozone treatment. The graphitic nature of both NCNTs and PCNTs was determined using Raman analysis while x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) was employed to probe the chemical nature of NCNTs. It was found that O3 attack occurs preferentially to the outermost geometric surface of NCNTs. Our research also revealed that the deleterious effects of ozone are found only on NCNTs while little or no damage occurs on PCNTs. Furthermore, XPS analysis indicated that ALD ozone treatment on NCNTs, at elevated temperatures, results in loss of nitrogen content. Our studies demonstrate that ALD ozone treatment is an effective avenue toward creating low nitrogen content, defect rich substrates for use in electrochemical applications and ALD of various metal/metal oxides.

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