Nano Research

Article Title

Electrically tunable pore morphology in nanoporous gold thin films


nanoporous gold, tunable morphology, Joule heating, material screening


Nanoporous gold (np-Au) is an emerging nanostructured material that exhibits many desirable properties, including high electrical and thermal conductivity, high surface area-to-volume ratio, tunable pore morphology, well-established surface-binding chemistry, and compatibility with microfabrication. These features make np-Au a popular material for use in fuel cells, optical and electrical biosensors, drug delivery vehicles, neural electrode coatings, and as a model system for nanoscale mechanics. In each of its many applications, np-Au morphology plays an essential role in the overall device operation. Therefore, precise morphological control is necessary to attain optimal device performance. Traditionally, thermal treatment by furnaces and hot plates is used to obtain np-Au with self-similar but coarser morphologies. However, this approach lacks the ability to create different morphologies on a single substrate and requires high temperatures (> 250 °C) incompatible with most plastic substrates. Herein, we report electro-annealing as a novel method that permits control of the extent and location of pore coarsening on a single substrate in one fast treatment step. The electro-annealing entails much lower temperatures (< 150 °C) than traditional thermal treatment, putatively due to electrically assisted phenomena contributing to the thermally activated surface diffusion of gold atoms, responsible for coarsening. Overall, this approach is easily scaled to display multiple pore morphologies on a single chip, therefore enabling high-throughput screening of optimal nanostructures for specific applications.

Graphical Abstract


Tsinghua University Press