Real-Time Tracking of Metal Nucleation via Local Perturbation of Hydration Layers

Robert Harniman, Daniela Plana, George Carter, Kieren Bradley, Mervyn Miles, David Fermin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
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The real-time visualization of stochastic nucleation events at electrode surfaces is one of the most complex challenges in electrochemical phase formation. The early stages of metal deposition on foreign substrates are characterized by a highly dynamic process in which nanoparticles nucleate and dissolve prior to reaching a critical size for deposition and growth. In this communication, high-speed non-contact lateral molecular force microscopy employing vertically oriented probes is utilized to explore the evolution of hydration layers at electrode surfaces with the unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution, and extremely low probe-surface interaction forces required to avoid disruption or shielding the critical nucleus formation. To the best of our knowledge, stochastic nucleation events of nanoscale Copper deposits are visualized in real time for the first time and a highly dynamic topographic environment prior to the formation of critical nuclei is unveiled, featuring formation/re-dissolution of nuclei, two-dimensional aggregation and nuclei growth.
Original languageEnglish
Article number971
Number of pages8
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2017

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