Mesoporous semiconducting films consisting of preferentially orientated monoclinic-phase nanocrystals of tungsten trioxide have been prepared using a novel version of the sol-gel method. Transformations undergone by a colloidal solution of tungstic acid, stabilized by an organic additive such as poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) 300, as a function of the annealing temperature have been followed by means of a confocal Raman microscope. The shape and size of WO3 nanoparticles, the porosity, and the properties of the films depend critically on preparation parameters, such as the tungstic acid/PEG ratio, the PEG chain length, and the annealing conditions. Well-crystallized WO3 films combine excellent photoresponse to the blue region of the solar spectrum, up to 500 nm, with good transparency at wavelengths larger than 550 nm. Particular applications of these nanocrystalline WO3 films include photoelectrochemical and electrochromic devices.
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