Use of in Situ Atomic Force Microscopy to Image Copper Eiectrodeposits on Platinum

Richard C. Alkire, Rebecca M. Rynders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In situ atomic force microscopy (AFM) was used to observe growth morphology during copper electrodeposition on Pt(100) and Pt(lll) surfaces from 0.25M CuSO4/0.5MH2SO4 containing 0,10, and 100 μM benzotriazole (BTA). The Pt(100) crystal was misoriented —2° to give terraces that were approximately 1 μm in length and 25 to 50 A high. Deposit morphology was monitored primarily during growth at current densities between 1 and 15 mA/cm2 under stagnant conditions. In the absence of BTA, copper selectively deposited on the larger step sites rather than on the smaller steps or terrace regions. From solutions containing 10 μMBTA, copper deposited in clumps along the steps. From solutions containing 100 μm BTA, deposition occurred without regard to substrate features. On Pt(l 11), three-dimensional nucleation of copper was monitored at the nanoscale level during cathodic deposition from 0.25M CuSO4/0.5M H2S04. At overpotentials <70 mV, no nuclei were observed. At 120 and 170 mV over-potential individual 3-D clusters were observed, and additional clusters nucleated over time. At higher overpotentials (≥200 mV), uniform nucleation and overlap were observed. The current transients and AFM images recorded during the deposition experiments were compared with theory for 3-D, solution-diffusion-controlled, multiple nucleation with overlap. At high overpotentials, the current transients were consistent with theory, and AFM images indicated that nucleation was three-dimensional with overlap. At low overpotentials, the current transients were not consistent with theory, and AFM images confirmed that nuclei did not overlap.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1166-1173
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Electrochemical Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • atomic force microscopy
  • electric potential
  • electrodeposition
  • island structure surface topography
  • metallic thin films
  • nucleation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Electrochemistry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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