The new process exploits an unexpected feature of electrodeposition of platinum—if you drive the reaction much more strongly than usual, a new reaction steps in to shuts down the metal deposition process, allowing an unprecedented level of control of the film thickness.
Schematic shows self-quenched platinum deposition on a gold surface. Under a high driving voltage, platinum in solution (bound to four chloride atoms) can shed the chloride and bind to a location on the gold. Hydrogen rapidly adsorbs on the platinum, ensuring that the platinum forms an even surface a single atom thick.
Platinum is a widely used industrial catalyst—in automobile catalytic converters and hydrogen fuel cells—as well as a key component in microelectronics, so the discovery may have widespread application in the design and manufacture of platinum-based devices.
The metal is rare, and hence very pricey, so materials engineers try to use it sparingly as a thin layer on a substrate. They'd like to be able to control the deposition process down to uniform, single layers of atoms. Unfortunately, platinum doesn't always cooperate.
The model system studied at NIST—depositing a platinum layer on gold by electroplating—demonstrates the challenging nature of the problem. A voltage is applied to drive the deposition of platinum from an electrode onto the gold surface in an aqueous solution. Normally, this leads to a patchy and rough surface rather than the desired smooth and even layer of platinum, because platinum tends to attach first to any defects on the gold surface, and then tends to attach to itself, rather than the gold.
The NIST team has found that increasing the voltage, the driving force of the reaction, far higher than normal to the point where the water molecules start to break down and hydrogen ions form, leads to an unexpected and useful result. The hydrogen quickly forms a layer covering the freshly deposited platinum islands and completely quenches further metal deposition. Using a battery of analytic techniques, including a quartz crystal microbalance, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and scanning tunneling microscopy, the group found that the formation of the hydrogen layer was rapid enough to restrict deposition to the formation of a single layer of platinum atoms. The team further discovered that by pulsing the applied voltage, they could selectively remove the hydrogen layer to enable the platinum deposition process to be repeated to form another layer.
The deposition process occurs in a single plating bath and is surprisingly fast—1,000 times faster than making comparable films using molecular beam epitaxy, for example. It's also faster, simpler and less prone to contamination than other electrochemical techniques for depositing platinum films, making it much less expensive.
The novel technique, the researchers say, may also work with a number of other metal and alloy combinations, a subject of ongoing research.
* Y. Liu, D. Gokcen, U. Bertocci and T.P. Moffat. Self-terminating growth of platinum films by electrochemical deposition. Science, v. 338, 1327, Dec. 7, 2012. Doi: 10.1126/science.1228925.
Michael Baum | EurekAlert!
Novel sensors could enable smarter textiles
17.08.2018 | University of Delaware
Quantum material is promising 'ion conductor' for research, new technologies
17.08.2018 | Purdue University
New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference
Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...
17.08.2018 | Event News
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
17.08.2018 | Information Technology
17.08.2018 | Life Sciences