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Interfacial adhesion of ZnO nanowires on a Si substrate in air

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It is imperative to understand the interfacial adhesive behaviour of nanowires (NW) integrated into a nanoelectromechanical system in order to design commercialisable nanogenerators as well as ultrasensitive sensors. Currently available interfacial adhesion characterisation techniques that utilise in situ electron microscopy subject nanoscale systems to a high-vacuum, electron-irradiated environment, potentially altering their interfacial interactions. Alternatively, force-sensing techniques conducted in air do not provide visual feedback of the interface, and therefore can only indirectly deduce adhesive properties. Here, we present an interface characterisation technique that enforces ZnO NWs to remain partially delaminated on a Si substrate, and permits optical observation of their deformed condition in air. NWs are draped over a wedge and are allowed to conform to their minimum energy state. We evaluate the strain energy stored in the suspended segment of each NW by determining their deflected shape from interferometry. We show that utilising a tailored Euler–Bernoulli beam model which accounts for the tapering and irregularity of a NW is crucial for accurately evaluating their interfacial adhesion energy. A nominal energy per unit interface area value of [capital Gamma, Greek, macron]F–B,irr,taper = 51.1 ± 31.9 mJ m−2 is obtained for the ZnO NW-Si substrate interface; a magnitude lower than that found using electron microscopy, and higher than the upper-bound of the theoretically predicted van der Waals interaction energy of γvdW = 7.2 mJ m−2. This apparent discrepancy has significant implications for any nanotribological study conducted inside an electron microscope. The results also implicate electrostatic and capillary interactions as significant contributors towards a NW's adhesive behaviour during device operation.

Graphical abstract: Interfacial adhesion of ZnO nanowires on a Si substrate in air

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Article information

13 Feb 2020
23 Mar 2020
First published
23 Mar 2020

Nanoscale, 2020, Advance Article
Article type

Interfacial adhesion of ZnO nanowires on a Si substrate in air

J. L. Mead, S. Wang, S. Zimmermann and H. Huang, Nanoscale, 2020, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/D0NR01261K

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