• Variational anodic oxidation of aluminum for the formation of conically profiled nanoporous alumina templates

      Wallace, Patrick D. (2012-05)
      Anodic oxidation of metals, otherwise known as anodization, is a process by which the metal in question is intentionally oxidized via an electrochemical reaction. The sample to be oxidized is connected to the anode, or positive side of a DC power source, while a sample of similar characteristics is attached to the cathode or negative side of the same power source. Both leads are then immersed in an acidic solution called the electrolyte and a current is passed between them. Certain metals such as aluminum or titanium anodized in this way form a porous oxide barrier, the characteristics of which are dependent on the anodization parameters including the type of acid employed as the electrolyte, pH of the electrolyte, applied voltage, temperature and current density. Under specific conditions the oxide formed can exhibit highly ordered cylindrical nanopores uniformly distributed in a hexagonal pattern. In this way anodization is employed as method for nanofabrication of ordered structures. The goal of this work is to investigate the effects of a varied potential difference on the anodization process. Specifically to affect a self-assembled conical pore profile by changing the applied voltage in time. Although conical pore profiles have been realized via post-processing techniques such as directed wet etching and multi-step anodization, these processes result in pore dimensions generally increasing by an order of magnitude or more. To date there has been reporting on galvanostatic or current variations which directly effected the resulting pore profiles, but to our knowledge there has not been a reported investigation of potentiostatic or voltage variation on the anodization process. We strive to realize a conical pore profile in process with the traditional two-step anodization method while maintaining the smallest pore dimensions possible. Pores having diameters below 20nm with aspect ratios about 1.0 would be ideal as those dimensions would be much closer to some of the characteristic lengths governing the quantum confined spatial domain. Thus we set out to answer the question of what effect a time varied potential difference will have on the traditional two-step anodization method, a technique we refer to as variational iodization, and if in fact conically profiled nanopores can be realized via such a technique.