Regulating the state of the solid-liquid interface by means of electric fields is a powerful tool to control electrochemistry. In scanning probe systems, this can be confined closely to a scanning (nano)electrode by means of fast potential pulses, providing a way to probe the interface and control electrochemical reactions locally, as has been demonstrated in nanoscale electrochemical etching. For this purpose, it is important to know the spatial extent of the interaction between pulses applied to the tip, and the substrate. In this paper we use a framework of diffuse layer charging to describe the localization of electrical double layer charging in response to a potential pulse at the probe. Our findings are in good agreement with literature values obtained in electrochemical etching. We show that the pulse can be much more localized by limiting the diffusivity of the ions present in solution, by confined electrodeposition of cobalt in a dimethyl sulfoxide solution, using an electrochemical scanning tunnelling microscope. Finally, we demonstrate the deposition of cobalt nanostructures (<100 nm) using this method. The presented framework therefore provides a general route for predicting and controlling the time-dependent region of interaction between an electrochemical scanning probe and the surface.

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The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
Nanoscale Adv.
3D Photovoltaics

Aarts, M., Reiser, A., Spolenak, R., & Alarcón-Lladó, E. (2022). Confined pulsed diffuse layer charging for nanoscale electrodeposition with an STM. Nanoscale Adv., 4(4), 1182–1190. doi:10.1039/d1na00779c