Most real core-shell nanoparticle (CSNP) samples deviate from an ideal core-shell structure potentially having significant impact on the particle properties. An ideal structure displays a spherical core fully encapsulated by a shell of homogeneous thickness, and all particles in the sample exhibit the same shell thickness. Therefore, analytical techniques are required that can identify and characterize such deviations. This study demonstrates that by analysis of the inelastic background in X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) survey spectra, the following types of deviations can be identified and quantified: the nonuniformity of the shell thickness within a nanoparticle sample and the incomplete encapsulation of the cores by the shell material. Furthermore, CSNP shell thicknesses and relative coverages can be obtained. These results allow for a quick and straightforward comparison between several batches of a specific CSNP, different coating approaches, and so forth. The presented XPS methodology requires a submonolayer distribution of CSNPs on a substrate. Poly(tetrafluoroethylene)-poly(methyl methacrylate) and poly(tetrafluoroethylene)-polystyrene polymer CSNPs serve as model systems to demonstrate the applicability of the approach.
- core-shell nanoparticles
- inelastic background