Journal article

Strong Improvement of Long-Term Chemical and Thermal Stability of Plasmonic Silver Nanoantennas and Films

Silver (Ag) nanostructures and thin films are advantageous plasmonic materials as they have significantly lower losses than gold (Au). Unfortunately, Ag nanostructures suffer from poor chemical and thermal stability, which limit their applications. Here, the mechanisms leading to the deterioration of Ag nanostructures are clarified. It is first shown that oxygen alone cannot oxidize Ag nanostructures. Then, experiments using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy reveal that the amount of sulfur in ambient air is too low for efficient tarnishing of the Ag surface. Finally, water is found to be the most critical factor for the degradation of Ag nanostructures and thin films. At high relative humidity, adsorbed water forms a thin film enabling the migration of Agions at the Ag/air interface, which deteriorates the Ag nanostructures. A dehydration treatment is developed which alters the morphology of the deposited silver, leading to an improved chemical and thermal stability of the Ag nanostructures and films, which then remain stable for more than 14 weeks under ambient laboratory conditions. In addition, dehydration also improves significantly the root-mean-square roughness for Ag thin films deposited on a glass substrate.

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