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Preventing Corrosion of Aluminum Metal with Nanometer-Thick Films of Al2O3 Capped with TiO2 for Ultraviolet Plasmonics

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posted on 2023-01-11, 23:03 authored by Prithu Roy, Clémence Badie, Jean-Benoît Claude, Aleksandr Barulin, Antonin Moreau, Julien Lumeau, Marco Abbarchi, Lionel Santinacci, Jérôme Wenger
Extending plasmonics into the ultraviolet range imposes the use of aluminum to achieve the best optical performance. However, water corrosion is a major limiting issue for UV aluminum plasmonics, as this phenomenon occurs significantly faster in presence of UV light, even at low laser powers of a few microwatts. Here we assess the performance of nanometer-thick layers of various metal oxides deposited by atomic layer deposition (ALD) and plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) on top of aluminum nanoapertures to protect the metal against UV photocorrosion. The combination of a 5 nm Al2O3 layer covered by a 5 nm TiO2 capping provides the best resistance performance, while a single 10 nm layer of SiO2 or HfO2 is a good alternative. We also report the influence of the laser wavelength, the laser operation mode and the pH of the solution. Properly choosing these conditions significantly extends the range of optical powers for which the aluminum nanostructures can be used. As application, we demonstrate the label-free detection of streptavidin proteins with improved signal to noise ratio. Our approach is also beneficial to promote the long-term stability of the aluminum nanostructures. Finding the appropriate nanoscale protection against aluminum corrosion is the key to enable the development of UV plasmonic applications in chemistry and biology.



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