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Pure Appl. Chem., 2008, Vol. 80, No. 11, pp. 2439-2449

In situ transient study of polymer film growth via simultaneous correlation of charge, mass, and ellipsometric measurements

Vojtech Svoboda and Bor Yann Liaw

Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1680 East-West Road, POST 109, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA

Abstract: Using three synchronized, in situ, nonintrusive, real-time characterization techniques to conduct transient observations, we revealed mechanistic details of a polymer film growth. A thin methylene green (MG) polymer coating (of the order of 35 nm) was used as a model system in this electrochemical microgravimetric imaging ellipsometry (EmIE) investigation. The direct correlation of changes in mass (via quartz crystal microbalance, QCM), ellipsometric angles (via imaging ellipsometry) with electrochemical conditions (in cyclic voltammetry, CV) provides discrete temporal and spatial information to help us decipher the underlying steps, from which we were able to separate adsorption, reduction, oxidation, desorption, and polymerization regimes involved in the deposition process. The evidence revealed in this study could have broad impact on the general understanding regarding how a film is deposited onto a metal surface.