Aluminum oxide structure

Schematic representation of the anodization cell used in the experiments. Also shown is the time evolution of the anodization current during the anodic oxidation at 15 V in 15 vol.% H2SO4 aqueous solution.


Porous aluminum oxide has stimulated considerable interest as a nanostructural template, primarily because of the self-organized formation of extremely well-aligned cylindrical pores.[1-13] One of the fascinating aspects is the tunability of the interpore distance and pore diameter by simple variation of the anodization parameters[1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 13] such as voltage and electrolyte solution composition. Apart from the application of aluminum oxide films as filtration membranes, [14] they are frequently used to fabricate nano-wires with large aspect ratios.[13, 15-20] Many different materials, such as metals, both magnetic[21-29] and nonmagnetic/30-3^ semiconductors, 1-37-44-1 nanotubes, [45-48] and even heterostructures, [49] have been grown in the porous membranes using primarily electrodeposition. Furthermore, porous aluminum oxide membranes have also been used as humidity sensors, [50, 51] or as cathodes for organic light-emitting diodes.[52]

To control and optimize the formation of the aluminum oxide structure as well as the deposition of material within this porous matrix, in situ characterization techniques will certainly be required. Optical reflection techniques provide a nondestructive method to in situ monitor processes such as the anodization and the growth of nanowires. A major advantage of these techniques is their full compatibility with electrochemical or vacuum environments. Several spectroscopic ellipsometry studies of porous aluminum oxide structures, obtained under different anodization conditions, have been published.[53-56] These investigations were performed on aluminum oxide films, formed by anodizing bulk aluminum samples. Different optical models have been proposed, which take into account the porosity of the film itself, but also include the barrier layer structure between the oxide matrix and the bulk substrate. In these models, the number of parameters is often large due to a proper description of the barrier layer. Determination of the properties of the anodized film in terms of actual physical quantities is not straight forward.

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