A plasma-enhanced atomic layer deposition (PE-ALD) process to deposit metallic gold is reported, using the previously reported Me3Au(PMe3) precursor with H2 plasma as the reactant. The process has a deposition window from 50 to 120 °C with a growth rate of 0.030 ± 0.002 nm per cycle on gold seed layers, and it shows saturating behavior for both the precursor and reactant exposure. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy measurements show that the gold films deposited at 120 °C are of higher purity than the previously reported ones (<1 at. % carbon and oxygen impurities and <0.1 at. % phosphorous). A low resistivity value was obtained (5.9 ± 0.3 μω cm), and X-ray diffraction measurements confirm that films deposited at 50 and 120 °C are polycrystalline. The process forms gold nanoparticles on oxide surfaces, which coalesce into wormlike nanostructures during deposition. Nanostructures grown at 120 °C are evaluated as substrates for free-space surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) and exhibit an excellent enhancement factor that is without optimization, only one order of magnitude weaker than state-of-the-art gold nanodome substrates. The reported gold PE-ALD process therefore offers a deposition method to create SERS substrates that are template-free and does not require lithography. Using this process, it is possible to deposit nanostructured gold layers at low temperatures on complex three-dimensional (3D) substrates, opening up opportunities for the application of gold ALD in flexible electronics, heterogeneous catalysis, or the preparation of 3D SERS substrates.

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ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Department of Chemistry

Van Daele, M. (Michiel), Griffiths, M.B.E. (Matthew B. E.), Raza, A. (Ali), Minjauw, M.M. (Matthias M.), Solano, E. (Eduardo), Feng, J.-Y. (Ji-Yu), … Dendooven, J. (Jolien). (2019). Plasma-enhanced atomic layer deposition of nanostructured gold near room temperature. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. doi:10.1021/acsami.9b10848