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Effect of Electrode Roughness On the Capacitive Behavior of Self-Assembled Monolayers

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journal contribution
posted on 15.10.2008, 00:00 by Eugene F. Douglass Jr., Peter F. Driscoll, Deli Liu, Nancy A. Burnham, Christopher R. Lambert, W. Grant McGimpsey
Analytical gold electrodes were polished mechanically and electrochemically and the true area of the electrode surface was measured by quantitative oxidative/reductive cycling of the electrode. A roughness factor for each electrode was determined from the ratio of the true area to the geometric area. The roughness is fully described by a combination of microscopic roughness (up to tens of nanometers) and macroscopic roughness (on the order of hundreds of nanometers) terms. The electrodes were then derivatized with a self-assembled monolayer (SAM) of dodecanethiol or a thioalkane azacrown and characterized by impedance spectroscopy. The behavior of the electrodes was modeled with either a Helmholtz or Randles equivalent circuit (depending on the SAM used) in which the capacitance was replaced with a constant phase element. From the model, an effective capacitance and an α factor that quantifies the nonideality of the SAM capacitance was obtained. The effective capacitance divided by the roughness factor yields the capacitance per unit true area, which is only a function of microscopic roughness. The relationship between this capacitance and the α factor indicates that microscopic roughness predominantly affects the nonideality of the film while macroscopic roughness predominantly affects the magnitude of the film’s capacitance. Understanding the contribution of the electrode topography to the magnitude and ideality of the SAM capacitance is important in the construction of SAM-based capacitive sensors because it predicts the importance of electrode−electrode variations.