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Open Access Publications from the University of California

In Situ Characterization of the Initial Effect of Water on Molecular Interactions at the Interface of Organic/Inorganic Hybrid Systems

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Probing initial interactions at the interface of hybrid systems under humid conditions has the potential to reveal the local chemical environment at solid/solid interfaces under real-world, technologically relevant conditions. Here, we show that ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (APXPS) with a conventional X-ray source can be used to study the effects of water exposure on the interaction of a nanometer-thin polyacrylic acid (PAA) layer with a native aluminum oxide surface. The formation of a carboxylate ionic bond at the interface is characterized both with APXPS and in situ attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy in the Kretschmann geometry (ATR-FTIR Kretschmann). When water is dosed in the APXPS chamber up to 5 Torr (~28% relative humidity), an increase in the amount of ionic bonds at the interface is observed. To confirm our APXPS interpretation, complementary ATR-FTIR Kretschmann experiments on a similar model system, which is exposed to an aqueous electrolyte, are conducted. These spectra demonstrate that water leads to an increased wet adhesion through increased ionic bond formation.

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