Electron Beam Transparent Boron Doped Diamond Electrodes for Combined Electrochemistry – Transmission Electron Microscopy



The majority of carbon based transmission electron microscopy (TEM) platforms (grids) have a significant sp2 carbon component. Here, we report a top down fabrication technique for producing freestanding, robust, electron beam transparent and conductive sp3 carbon substrates i.e. boron doped diamond (BDD) using an ion milling/polishing process. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and electrochemical measurements reveal the sp3 carbon character of the diamond and advantageous electrochemical properties of a BDD electrode are retained during the milling process. TEM diffraction studies show a dominant (110) crystallographic orientation. Compared with conventional carbon TEM films on metal supports, the BDD-TEM electrodes offer superior thermal, mechanical and electrochemical stability properties. For the latter, no carbon loss is observed over a wide electrochemical potential range (up to 1.80 V vs RHE) under prolonged testing times (5 hrs) in acid (comparable with accelerated stress testing protocols). This result also highlights the use of BDD as a corrosion free electrocatalyst TEM support for fundamental studies, and in practical energy conversion applications. High magnification TEM imaging demonstrates resolution of isolated, single atoms on the BDD-TEM electrode during electrodeposition, due to the low background electron scattering of the BDD surface. Given the high thermal conductivity and stability of the BDD-TEM electrodes, in-situ monitoring of thermally induced morphological changes is also possible, shown here for the thermally induced crystallization of amorphous electrodeposited manganese oxide to the electrochemically active gamma-phase.


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Supplementary material

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Supporting Information
ESI 1: Troubleshooting guide ESI 2: Uncompensated resistance measurements of BDD-TEM electrodes ESI 3: Additional surface characterisation data ESI 4: Additional XPS data ESI 5: Contact angle measurements ESI 6: Electrochemical characterisation ESI 7: EELS data ESI 8: MnO2 crystallisation d-spacing data ESI 9: TEM grid temperature stability in air