High-resolution ellipsometric study of an n-alkane film, dotriacontane, adsorbed on a SiO2 surface
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Using high-resolution ellipsometry and stray light intensity measurements, we have investigated during successive heating-cooling cycles the optical thickness and surface roughness of thin dotriacontane (n-C32H66) films adsorbed from a heptane (n-C7H16) solution onto SiO2-coated Si(100) single-crystal substrates. Our results suggest a model of a solid dotriacontane film that has a phase closest to the SiO2 surface in which the long-axis of the molecules is oriented parallel to the interface. Above this “parallel film” phase, a solid monolayer adsorbs in which the molecules are oriented perpendicular to the interface. At still higher coverages and at temperatures below the bulk melting point at Tb = 341 K, solid bulk particles coexist on top of the “perpendicular film.” For higher temperatures in the range Tb<T<Ts where Ts = 345 K is the wetting temperature of the bulk phase, the coexisting bulk particles melt into droplets; and for T>Ts, a uniformly thick fluid film wets to the parallel film phase. This structure of the alkane/SiO2 interfacial region differs qualitatively from that which occurs in the surface freezing effect at the bulk alkane fluid/vapor interface. In that case, there is again a perpendicular film phase adjacent to the air interface but no parallel film phase intervenes between it and the bulk alkane fluid. Similarities and differences between our model of the alkane/SiO2 interface and one proposed recently will be discussed. Our ellipsometric measurements also show evidence of a crystalline-to-plastic transition in the perpendicular film phase similar to that occurring in the solid bulk particles present at higher coverages. In addition, we have performed high-resolution ellipsometry and stray-light measurements on dotriacontane films deposited from solution onto highly oriented pyrolytic graphite substrates. After film deposition, these substrates proved to be less stable in air than SiO2.
J. Chem. Phys. 116, 2107 (2002)