American Chemical Society
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Surface Energy Change of Atomic-Scale Metal Oxide Thin Films by Phase Transformation

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posted on 2020-01-16, 20:48 authored by Il-Kwon Oh, Li Zeng, Jae-Eun Kim, Jong-Seo Park, Kangsik Kim, Hyunsoo Lee, Seunggi Seo, Mohammad Rizwan Khan, Sangmo Kim, Chung Wung Park, Junghoon Lee, Bonggeun Shong, Zonghoon Lee, Stacey F. Bent, Hyungjun Kim, Jeong Young Park, Han-Bo-Ram Lee
Fine-tuning of the surface free energy (SFE) of a solid material facilitates its use in a wide range of applications requiring precise control of the ubiquitous presence of liquid on the surface. In this study, we found that the SFE of rare-earth oxide (REO) thin films deposited by atomic layer deposition (ALD) gradually decreased with increasing film thickness; however, these changes could not be understood by classical interaction models. Herein, the mechanism underlying the aforesaid decrease was systematically studied by measuring contact angles, surface potential, adhesion force, crystalline structures, chemical compositions, and morphologies of the REO films. A growth mode of the REO films was observed: layer-by-layer growth at the initial stage with an amorphous phase and subsequent crystalline island growth, accompanied by a change in the crystalline structure and orientation that affects the SFE. The portion of the surface crystalline facets terminated with (222) and (440) planes evolved with an increase in ALD cycles and film thickness, as an amorphous phase was transformed. Based on this information, we demonstrated an SFE-tuned liquid tweezer with selectivity to target liquid droplets. We believe that the results of this fundamental and practical study, with excellent selectivity to liquids, will have significant impacts on coating technology.