Real-time observation of atomic layer deposition inhibition: Metal oxide growth on self-assembled alkanethiols

Jason R. Avila, Erica J. Demarco, Jonathan Daniel Emery, Omar k Farha, Michael J. Pellin, Joseph T Hupp, Alex B F Martinson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Through in situ quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) monitoring, we resolve the growth of a self-assembled monolayer (SAM) and subsequent metal oxide deposition with high resolution. We introduce the fitting of mass deposited during each atomic layer deposition (ALD) cycle to an analytical island-growth model that enables quantification of growth inhibition, nucleation density, and the uninhibited ALD growth rate. A long-chain alkanethiol was self-assembled as a monolayer on gold-coated quartz crystals in order to investigate its effectiveness as a barrier to ALD. Compared to solution-loading, vapor-loading is observed to produce a SAM with equal or greater inhibition ability in minutes vs days. The metal oxide growth temperature and the choice of precursor also significantly affect the nucleation density, which ranges from 0.001 to 1 sites/nm2. Finally, we observe a minimum 100 cycle inhibition of an oxide ALD process, ZnO, under moderately optimized conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11891-11898
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 13 2014


  • alkanethiol
  • analytical methods
  • atomic layer deposition
  • in situ
  • quartz crystal microbalance
  • self-assembled monolayers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Real-time observation of atomic layer deposition inhibition: Metal oxide growth on self-assembled alkanethiols'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this