Surface free energy analysis of ITO/Au/ITO multilayer thin films on polycarbonate substrate by apparent contact angle measurements
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A detailed surface free energy (SFE) knowledge of transparent conducing oxide (TCO)/metal/TCO electrodes is necessary for their applications related to surface wettability. However, SFE analysis of these surfaces has not been performed systematically previously. In this study, ITO and ITO/Au/ITO multilayer thin films were coated onto O-2 plasma treated polycarbonate (PC) substrates by magnetron sputtering. The wettability characteristics of untreated PC, O-2 plasma treated PC, ITO, Au interlayer, and ITO/Au/ITO multilayer thin films were evaluated by apparent contact angle measurements of nine different test liquids having various surface tensions. Following this, Lifshitz-van der Waals, acidic, basic, dispersive, and polar components of SFE were calculated using acidbase, geometric and harmonic mean approaches. In the present study, in which the significance of calculation methods and selected liquid pairs on SFE parameters were investigated, the effect of Au interlayer presence on SFE parameters were also evaluated simultaneously. The results showed that the total SFE values of ITO/Au/ITO multilayer thin films were found to be higher than that of ITO surface. The reasons behind this difference were discussed in terms of SFE components obtained using various liquid pairs by different methods. The results were also supported with XRD, XPS, AFM, and TEM analysis.