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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Unravelling the Chemical Influence of Water on the PMMA/Aluminum Oxide Hybrid Interface In Situ


Understanding the stability of chemical interactions at the polymer/metal oxide interface under humid conditions is vital to understand the long-term durability of hybrid systems. Therefore, the interface of ultrathin PMMA films on native aluminum oxide, deposited by reactive adsorption, was studied. The characterization of the interface of the coated substrates was performed using ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (APXPS), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy in the Kretschmann geometry (ATR-FTIR Kretschmann) and time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS). The formation of hydrogen bonds and carboxylate ionic bonds at the interface are observed. The formed ionic bond is stable up to 5 Torr water vapour pressure as shown by APXPS. However, when the coated samples are exposed to an excess of aqueous electrolyte, an increase in the amount of carboxylate bonds at the interface, as a result of hydrolysis of the methoxy group, is observed by ATR-FTIR Kretschmann. These observations, supported by ToF-SIMS spectra, lead to the proposal of an adsorption mechanism of PMMA on aluminum oxide, which shows the formation of methanol at the interface and the effect of water molecules on the different interfacial interactions.

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