Electro-polymerization rates of diazonium salts are dependent on the crystal orientation of the surface

Soraya Rahpeima, Anton Le Brun, Colin L. Raston, Nadim Darwish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Electro-polymerization of diazonium salts is widely used for modifying surfaces with thin organic films. Initially this method was primarily applied to carbon, then to metals, and more recently to semiconducting Si. Unlike on other surfaces, electrochemical reduction of diazonium salts on Si, which is one of the most industrially dominant material, is not well understood. Here, we report the electrochemical reduction of diazonium salts on a range of silicon electrodes of different crystal orientations (111, 211, 311, 411, and 100). We show that the kinetics of surface reaction and the reduction potential is Si crystal-facet dependent and is more favorable in the hierarchical order (1 1 1) > (2 1 1) > (3 1 1) > (4 1 1) > (1 0 0), a finding that offers control over the surface chemistry of diazonium salts on Si. The dependence of the surface reaction kinetics on the crystal orientation was found to be directly related to differences in the potential of zero charge (PZC) of each crystal orientation, which in turn controls the adsorption of the diazonium cations prior to reduction. Another consequence of the effect of PZC on the adsorption of diazonium cations, is that molecules terminated by distal diazonium moieties form a compact film in less time and requires less reduction potentials compared to that formed from diazonium molecules terminated by only one diazo moiety. In addition, at higher concentrations of diazonium cations, the mechanism of electrochemical polymerization on the surface becomes PZC-controlled adsorption-dominated inner-sphere electron transfer while at lower concentrations, diffusion-based outer-sphere electron transfer dominates. These findings help understanding the electro-polymerization reaction of diazonium salts on Si en route towards an integrated molecular and Si electronics technology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)985-994
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2022


  • Crystal orientation
  • Diazonium salts
  • Electro-polymerization
  • Silicon


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