Nano Science and Technology Institute

New atomic-layer electrodeposition method yields surprising results

By: Jennifer Rocha

Research by Dr. Yun Liu and colleagues at the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s Center for Neutron Research describes a new method for depositing ultra-thin layers of platinum on a surface.

Story content courtesy of Missouri University of Science & Technology, US

A new method for creating very thin layers of materials at the atomic scale could “unlock an important new technology” for creating nanomaterials, according to nanomaterials expert Dr. Jay A. Switzer of Missouri University of Science and Technology.

The method developed by Dr. Liu and his colleagues at NIST involves applying a “high overpotential” of electricity to deposit a layer of the metal on a surface, then to toggle to an underpotential to produce a layer of hydrogen. The hydrogen remains in place only briefly, then disappears as scientists adjust the voltage to add new layers of platinum.

“The beauty of this new electrochemical route to ALD is that it blends basic electrochemistry and surface science to unlock an important new technology,” says Switzer, who is the Donald L. Castleman/Foundation for Chemical Research Professor of Discovery at Missouri S&T.  Liu’s discovery could result in a new method for growing metal oxides or semiconductors at the atomic scale, Switzer says. “The prospects of this as a general processing method (for atomic-scale deposition) are encouraging,” he writes.

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