Nanopatterning of Transition Metal Surfaces via Electrochemical Dimple Array Formation
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Nanoscale surface patterning is of great importance for applications ranging from catalysts to biomaterials. We show the formation of ordered nanoscale dimple arrays on titanium, tungsten, and zirconium during electropolishing, demonstrating versatility of a process previously only reported for tantalum. This is a rare example of an electrochemical pattern formation process that can be translated to other materials. The dimpled surfaces have been characterized with scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and electrochemical conditions were optimized for each material. While conditions for titanium and tungsten resemble those for tantalum, zirconium requires a different type of electrolyte. Given the appropriate electropolishing chemistry, formation of these patterns should be possible on any metal surface. The process is very robust on homogeneous surfaces, but sensitive to inhomogeneities in chemical composition, such as in the case of differentially etched alloys. An alternative process for some materials such as platinum is the coating of a dimpled substrate with a thin film of the required material.
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