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Fast and reliable fabrication of gold tips with sub-50 nm radius of curvature for tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy

Abstract : We have developed a new electrochemical etching procedure to fabricate gold tips with sub-50 nm apical radius of curvature with a production yield of 80% and production time lower than 5 min. The technique is based on a two-step self-terminating process in which a gold wire is first quickly (<1 min) pre-etched in an hydrochloric acid (HCl)/ethanol solution at high voltage (10 VDC), and then slowly (2–4 min) etched at lower voltages (<2.5 VDC). The first step occurs under intense bubbling conditions and allows us to thin rapidly the wire. This reduces the time required by subsequent lowvoltage process during which the tips are formed at the liquid/air interface. A statistical analysis of the surface morphology has been carried out on a set of 60 tips by scanning electron microscopy. The results show that the surface roughness and the sharpness of the final tip are critically influenced by the intrinsic granularity of the gold wires. Moreover, there is a correlation between the tip quality and the time elapse required to complete the low-voltage etching step. Tips featuring smooth surfaces and radii of curvature <50 nm are produced whenever the etching times are lower than 250 s, while etching times larger than 300 s typically yield rough, blunt tips. Such a correlation can be used as a screening criterion to select sharp tips during production with an 80% yield. The high quality of the gold tips produced with such method is confirmed by the electromagnetic field enhancement measured both in tip-enhanced Raman scattering and surface-enhanced Raman scattering on the tip apex experiments.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, October 23, 2019 - 2:53:40 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, July 16, 2020 - 10:22:34 AM

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Manuel Lopes, Timothée Toury, Marc Lamy de la Chapelle, Francesco Bonaccorso, Pietro Giuseppe Gucciardi. Fast and reliable fabrication of gold tips with sub-50 nm radius of curvature for tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy. Review of Scientific Instruments, American Institute of Physics, 2013, 84 (7), pp.073702. ⟨10.1063/1.4812365⟩. ⟨hal-02329308⟩

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