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XPS, TDS, and AFM studies of surface chemistry and morphology of Ag-covered L-CVD SnO2 nanolayers

Monika Kwoka1*, Luca Ottaviano2, Piotr Koscielniak1 and Jacek Szuber1

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Electronics, Silesian University of Technology, Gliwice 44-100, Poland

2 CNR- SPIN & Department of Physics and Chemical Sciences University of L’Aquila, L’Aquila 67100, Italy

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2014, 9:260  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-9-260

Published: 24 May 2014


This is well known that the selectivity and sensitivity of tin dioxide (SnO2) thin film sensors for the detection of low concentration of volatile sulfides such as H2S in air can be improved by small amount of Ag additives. In this paper we present the results of comparative X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), thermal desorption spectroscopy (TDS), and atomic force microscopy (AFM) studies of the surface chemistry and morphology of SnO2 nanolayers obtained by laser-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (L-CVD) additionally covered with 1 monolayer (ML) of Ag. For as deposited SnO2 nanolayers, a mixture of tin oxide (SnO) and tin dioxide (SnO2) with the [C]/[Sn] ratio of approximately 1.3 was observed. After dry air exposure, the [O]/[Sn] ratio slightly increased to approximately 1.55. Moreover, an evident increasing of C contamination was observed with [C]/[Sn] ratio of approximately 3.5. After TDS experiment, the [O]/[Sn] ratio goes back to 1.3, whereas C contamination evidently decreases (by factor of 3). Simultaneously, the Ag concentration after air exposure and TDS experiment subsequently decreased (finally by factor of approximately 2), which was caused by the diffusion of Ag atoms into the subsurface layers related to the grain-type surface morphology of Ag-covered L-CVD SnO2 nanolayers, as confirmed by XPS ion depth profiling studies. The variation of surface chemistry of the Ag-covered L-CVD SnO2 after air exposure observed by XPS was in a good correlation with the desorption of residual gases from these nanolayers observed in TDS experiments.

Tin dioxide SnO2; L-CVD thin films; Ag-doping; Surface chemistry; Surface morphology; XPS; TDS; AFM