Surface modification of ZnO using triethoxysilane-based molecules.

Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids

PubMedID: 18973351

Allen CG, Baker DJ, Albin JM, Oertli HE, Gillaspie DT, Olson DC, Furtak TE, Collins RT. Surface modification of ZnO using triethoxysilane-based molecules. Langmuir. 2008;24(23):13393-8.
Zinc oxide (ZnO) is an important material for hybrid inorganic-organic devices in which the characteristics of the interface can dominate both the structural and electronic properties of the system. These characteristics can be modified through chemical functionalization of the ZnO surface. One of the possible strategies involves covalent bonding of the modifier using silane chemistry. Whereas a significant body of work has been published regarding silane attachments to glass and SiO2, there is less information about the efficacy of this method for controlling the surface of metal oxides. Here we report our investigation of molecular layers attached to polycrystalline ZnO through silane bonding, controlled by an amine catalyst. The catalyst enables us to use triethoxysilane precursors and thereby avoid undesirable multilayer formation. The polycrystalline surface is a practical material, grown by sol-gel processing, that is under active exploration for device applications. Our study included terminations with alkyl and phenyl groups. We used water contact angles, infrared spectroscopy, and X-ray photoemission spectroscopy to evaluate the modified surfaces. Alkyltriethoxysilane functionalization of ZnO produced molecular layers with submonolayer coverage and evidence of disorder. Nevertheless, a very stable hydrophobic surface with contact angles approaching 106 degrees resulted. Phenyltriethoxysilane was found to deposit in a similar manner. The resulting surface, however, exhibited significantly different wetting as a result of the nature of the end group. Molecular layers of this type, with a variety of surface terminations that use the same molecular attachment scheme, should enable interface engineering that optimizes the chemical selectivity of ZnO biosensors or the charge-transfer properties of ZnO-polymer interfaces found in oxide-organic electronics.