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The effect of rare earth element doping on the microstructural evolution of sol-gel titania powders
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The development of a better understanding of the low temperature nanophase evolution of high surface area titania (TiO2) based powders is essential for their use in photocatalytic applications. A series of rare earth (RE) element doped TiO2 powders were prepared by sol-gel processing. The effects of RE doping level, ionic size and heat treatment temperature on the nanophase structure evolution and the dopant ion location in TiO2 main matrix were investigated. Anatase was determined to be the main phase up to 900 °C at all doping levels for all REs. Anatase to rutile phase transformation was inhibited by RE doping. The inhibitory effect of REs increased with increasing ionic radius. Oxide phases of La, Nd, Pr, Sm were not present up to 5% and Nd4Ti9O24 phase was formed at 10% doping level at 800 °C. The formation of RE2Ti2O7 phases were determined for the REs with relatively lower ionic radii at 800 °C.