Tin sensitization and silver activation on indium tin oxide surfaces

April M. Jeffries, Zijian Wang, Robert L. Opila, Mariana I. Bertoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Adhesion of electrical contacts on electronic and optoelectronic devices is important for reliable device operation. Sn-sensitization is a widely used process that improves uniformity and adhesion of plated metals to glass and polymer surfaces. Electrically conductive substrates can significantly benefit from improved uniformity, adhesion, and contact resistance to metallic contact layers. In this study, we investigate the process of Sn-sensitization and Ag-activation on indium tin oxide (ITO) surfaces—a dominant transparent conducting oxide used in optoelectronic devices. Our results show that ITO films exposed to Sn-sensitization solutions with HCl concentrations below 10 mM effectively modify the surface termination through the process of Sn-sensitization (Sn-bonding at the surface hydroxide sites) without etching the ITO film. However, the subsequent Ag-activation on an ITO surface does not seem to follow the typical response on a glass substrate, suggesting that Ag-activation of an ITO surface is likely limited by the Ag ion size relative to the area density of surface hydroxide sensitization sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number152916
JournalApplied Surface Science
StatePublished - Jun 30 2022


  • silver activation
  • Surface modification
  • tin sensitization
  • Transparent conducting oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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