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Making Sense of Complex Carbon and Metal/Carbon Systems by Secondary Electron Hyperspectral Imaging

Kerry J. Abrams,* Maurizio Dapor, Nicola Stehling, Martina Azzolini, Stephan J. Kyle, Jan S. Schäfer, Antje Quade, Filip Mika, Stanislav Kratky, Zuzana Pokorna, Ivo Konvalina, Danielle Mehta, Kate Black, and Cornelia Rodenburg
Carbon and carbon/metal systems with a multitude of functionalities are ubiquitous in new technologies but understanding on the nanoscale remains elusive due to their affinity for interaction with their environment and limitations in available characterization techniques. This paper introduces a spectroscopic technique and demonstrates its capacity to reveal chemical variations of carbon. The effectiveness of this approach is validated experimentally through spatially averaging spectroscopic techniques and using Monte Carlo modeling. Characteristic spectra shapes and peak positions for varying contributions of sp2-like or sp3-like bond types and amorphous hydrogenated carbon are reported under circumstances which might be observed on highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) surfaces as a result of air or electron beam exposure. The spectral features identified above are then used to identify the different forms of carbon present within the metallic films deposited from reactive organometallic inks. While spectra for metals is obtained in dedicated surface science instrumentation, the complex relations between carbon and metal species is only revealed by secondary electron (SE) spectroscopy and SE hyperspectral imaging obtained in a state-of-the-art scanning electron microscope (SEM). This work reveals the inhomogeneous incorporation of carbon on the nanoscale but also uncovers a link between local orientation of metallic components and carbon form.
Date of publication: 
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Advanced Science, 1900719 (2019)