Conspectus The quality of technological materials generally improves as the crystallographic order is increased. This is particularly true in semiconductor materials, as evidenced by the huge impact that bulk single crystals of silicon have had on electronics. Another approach to producing highly ordered materials is the epitaxial growth of crystals on a single-crystal surface that determines their orientation. Epitaxy can be used to produce films and nanostructures of materials with a level of perfection that approaches that of single crystals. It may be used to produce materials that cannot be grown as large single crystals due to either economic or technical constraints. Epitaxial growth is typically limited to ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) techniques such as molecular beam epitaxy and other vapor deposition methods. In this Account, we will discuss the use of electrodeposition to produce epitaxial films of inorganic materials in aqueous solution under ambient conditions. In addition to lower capital costs than UHV deposition, electrodeposition offers additional levels of control due to solution additives that may adsorb on the surface, solution pH, and, especially, the applied overpotential. We show, for instance, that chiral morphologies of the achiral materials CuO and calcite can be produced by electrodepositing the materials in the presence of chiral agents such as tartaric acid. Inorganic compound materials are electrodeposited by an electrochemical-chemical mechanism in which solution precursors are electrochemically oxidized or reduced in the presence of molecules or ions that react with the redox product to form an insoluble species that deposits on the electrode surface. We present examples of reaction schemes for the electrodeposition of transparent hole conductors such as CuI and CuSCN, the magnetic material Fe3O4, oxygen evolution catalysts such as Co(OH)2, CoOOH, and Co3O4, and the n-type semiconducting oxide ZnO. These materials can all be electrodeposited as epitaxial films or nanostructures onto single-crystal surfaces. Examples of epitaxial growth are given for the growth of films of CuI(111) on Si(111) and nanowires of CuSCN(001) on Au(111). Both are large mismatch systems, and the epitaxy is explained by invoking coincidence site lattices in which x unit meshes of the film overlap with y unit meshes of the substrate. We also discuss the epitaxial lift-off of single-crystal-like foils of metals such as Au(111) and Cu(100) that can be used as flexible substrates for the epitaxial growth of semiconductors. The metals are grown on a Si wafer with a sacrificial SiOx interlayer that can be removed by chemical etching. The goal is to move beyond the planar structure of conventional Si-based chips to produce flexible electronic devices such as wearable solar cells, sensors, and flexible displays. A scheme is shown for the epitaxial lift-off of wafer-scale foils of the transparent hole conductor CuSCN. Finally, we offer some perspectives on possible future work in this area. One question we have not answered in our previous work is whether these epitaxial films and nanostructures can be grown with the level of perfection that is achieved in UHV. Another area that is ripe for exploration is the epitaxial electrodeposition of metal-organic framework materials from solution precursors.




National Science Foundation, Grant DE-FG02-08ER46518

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1520-4898; 0001-4842

Document Type

Article - Journal

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Publication Date

01 Jan 2023