Ferroelectric Thin Films for the Manipulation of Interfacial Forces in Aqueous Environments

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Ferris, Robert Joseph


Zauscher, Stefan

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Ferroelectric thin films (FETFs) offer a promising new platform for advancing liquid-phase interfacial sensing devices. FETFs are capable of expressing surface charge densities that are an order of magnitude higher than those of traditional charged surfaces in liquid environments (e.g., common oxides, self-assembled monolayers, or electrets). Furthermore, the switchable polarization state of FETFs enables patterning of charge-heterogeneous surfaces whose charge patterns persist over a range of environmental conditions. Integration of FETFs into liquid-phase interfacial sensing devices, however, requires the fabrication of films with nanometer-scale surface roughness, high remnant polarization values, and interfacial stability during prolonged exposure. The objectives of my research were to i) fabricate ferroelectric ultra-smooth lead zirconium titanate (US-PZT) thin films with nanometer-scale surface roughness, ii) establish the interfacial stability of these films after prolonged exposure to aqueous environments, iii) measure the interfacial forces as a function of film polarization and ionic strength, iv) calculate the surface potential of the US-PZT surface using electric double layer (EDL) theory, and v) demonstrate the guided deposition of charged colloidal particles onto locally polarized US-PZT thin films from solution.

I demonstrate the use of ferroelectric US-PZT thin films to manipulate EDL interaction forces in aqueous environments. My work conclusively shows that the polarization state of US-PZT controls EDL formation and can be used to induce the guided deposition of charged colloidal particles in solution.

I present a robust fabrication scheme for making ferroelectric US-PZT thin films from a sol-gel precursor. By optimizing critical thermal processing steps I am able to minimize the in-plane stress of the film and reliably produce US-PZT thin films on the wafer-scale with mean surface roughness values of only 2.4 nm over a 25 μm2 area. I then establish US-PZT film stability in water by measuring changes in film topography, crystallinity, surface chemistry, and electrical properties as a function of exposure duration. My results show that fabrication of crack-free US-PZT thin film is critical for long-term film fidelity in aqueous environments. Furthermore, I found no change in film topography or bulk composition with increasing exposure duration. Prolonged exposure to aqueous environments, however, gradually oxidizes the surface of the US-PZT wich results in a decrease in film resistivity and polarization saturation. Next, I used colloidal probe force microscopy (CPFM) to measure the EDL interaction force as a function of separation distance between polarized US-PZT thin films and a clean borosilicate probe. CPFM measurements were performed on oppositely polarized US-PZT thin films, which expressed either a positive or negative surface charge, and over a range of ionic strengths. The inner-Helmholtz plane (IHP) potential of the US-PZT was determined by fitting the CPFM force-separation data to number of EDL models, including; an analytical EDL model using a constant potential boundary condition with a Stern layer, a charge regulation EDL model, and a numerical EDL model using the non-linear Poisson-Boltzmann equation. Each model provides good agreement with the experimentally measured and predict high IHP surface potential for the polarized US-PZT thin films in solution. Finally, I demonstrate the use of polarized US-PZT to induce the guided deposition of positively or negatively charged colloidal particles from aqueous environments. I explore the effects of ionic strength, particle size, surface roughness, and pH on particle deposition.

Overall, this work demonstrates, for the first time, that FETFs can be used as a platform to manipulate colloidal particles in aqueous environments. The experimental results demonstrate that the surface charge of the FETF is reduced by charge shielding and perform similarly to traditional, charged surfaces in aqueous environments.





Ferris, Robert Joseph (2013). Ferroelectric Thin Films for the Manipulation of Interfacial Forces in Aqueous Environments. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/7163.


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