Electrostatic self-assembly of diamond nanoparticles (DNPs) onto substrate surfaces (so-called nanodiamond seeding) is a notable technique, enabling chemical vapor deposition (CVD) of nanocrystalline diamond thin films on non-diamond substrates. In this study, we examine this technique onto differently polarized (either Al- or N-polar) c-axis oriented sputtered aluminum nitride (AlN) film surfaces. This investigation shows that Al-polar films, as compared to N-polar ones, obtain DNPs with higher density and more homogeneously on their surfaces. The origin of these differences in density and homogeneity is discussed based on the hydrolysis behavior of AlN surfaces in aqueous suspensions.
Keywords: aluminum nitride; diamond nanoparticles; electrostatic self-assembly; hydrolysis; nanodiamond seeding; polarity; surface oxidation; zeta potential.