Chemical and semiconducting properties of NO2-activated H-terminated diamond

M. W. Geis, T. H. Fedynyshyn, M. E. Plaut, T. C. Wade, C. H. Wuorio, S. A. Vitale, J. O. Varghese, T. A. Grotjohn, Robert Nemanich, M. A. Hollis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The H-terminated surface of diamond when activated with NO2 produces a surface conduction layer that has been used to make field effect transistors (FETs). Previous reports have suggested that during NO2 exposure (NO2-activation), NO2 forms on the diamond surface and generates positive carriers (holes) in the diamond, making the diamond surface conductive. We report here on X-ray-photoelectron-spectroscopy (XPS) surface characterization of single crystal diamonds and on infrared absorption of diamond powder. After activation, XPS showed the presence of N atoms on the diamond surface, but infrared absorption found no evidence of NO2 , but instead NO3 is present on the diamond surface. Two wet chemistry techniques determined the concentration of NO3 per milligram of diamond powder. With the powder's surface area measured by the BET technique, the surface NO3 concentration was measured to be between 6.2 × 1013 and 8.2 × 1013 cm−2. This is in the same range as the carrier densities, 3 × 1013 to 9 × 1013 cm−2, determined by Hall mobility and surface conductivity measurements of single crystal diamonds. Using similar techniques, the concentration of NO2 was determined to be <1012 cm−2. Both the surface conductance and the surface H atoms are stable in dry nitrogen, with or without NO2-activation, but the surface conductance, the concentrations of H atoms both with and without activation and NO3 decrease when exposed to laboratory air over a period of hours to days. Infrared absorption measurements showed the reduction of surface NO3 and H atoms during laboratory air exposure, but gave no indication of what reactions are responsible for their loss in laboratory air.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-94
Number of pages9
JournalDiamond and Related Materials
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Diamond
  • Hydrogen-termination
  • Molecular adsorption
  • Nitrogen dioxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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