Probing initial interactions at the interface of hybrid systems under humid conditions has the potential to reveal the local chemical environment at solid/solid interfaces under real-world, technologically relevant conditions. Here, we show that ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (APXPS) with a conventional X-ray source can be used to study the effects of water exposure on the interaction of a nanometer-thin polyacrylic acid (PAA) layer with a native aluminum oxide surface. The formation of a carboxylate ionic bond at the interface is characterized both with APXPS and in situ attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy in the Kretschmann geometry (ATR-FTIR Kretschmann). When water is dosed in the APXPS chamber up to 5 Torr (∼28% relative humidity), an increase in the amount of ionic bonds at the interface is observed. To confirm our APXPS interpretation, complementary ATR-FTIR Kretschmann experiments on a similar model system, which is exposed to an aqueous electrolyte, are conducted. These spectra demonstrate that water leads to an increased wet adhesion through increased ionic bond formation.
- Characterization and analytical techniques
- Nanoscale materials
- Physical chemistry