Three-Dimensional Atom Probe Tomography of Oxide, Anion, and Alkanethiolate Coatings on Gold

We have used three-dimensional atom probe tomography to analyze several nanometer-thick and monomolecular films on gold surfaces. High-purity gold wire was etched by electropolishing to create a sharp tip suitable for field evaporation with a radius of curvature of <100 nm. The near-surface region of a freshly etched gold tip was examined with the atom probe at subnanometer spatial resolution and with atom-level composition accuracy. A thin contaminant layer, primarily consisting of water and atmospheric gases, was observed on a fresh tip. This sample exhibited crystalline lattice spacings consistent with the interlayer spacing of {200} lattice planes of bulk gold. A thin oxide layer was created on the gold surface via plasma oxidation, and the thickness and composition of this layer was measured. Clear evidence of a nanometer-thick oxide layer was seen coating the gold tip, and the atomic composition of the oxide layer was consistent with the expected stoichiometry for gold oxide. Monomolecular anions layers of Br− and I− were created via adsorption from aqueous solutions onto the gold. Atom probe data verified the presence of the monomolecular anion layers on the gold surface, with ion density values consistent with literature values. A hexanethiolate monolayer was coated onto the gold tip, and atom probe analysis revealed a thin film whose ion fragments were consistent with the molecular composition of the monolayer and a surface coverage similar to that expected from literature. Details of the various coating compositions and structures are presented, along with discussion of the reconstruction issues associated with properly analyzing these thin-film systems.

Zhang, Y., A.C. Hillier

Analytical Chemistry

82 (14)





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