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Quantitative Evaluation of the Carbon Hybridization State by Near Edge X-ray Absorption Fine Structure Spectroscopy

Mangolini, Filippo, McClimon, J. Brandon, Carpick, Robert W.
Analytical chemistry 2016 v.88 no.5 pp. 2817-2824
Raman spectroscopy, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, graphene, hydrogenation, quantitative analysis, scientists, uncertainty
The characterization of the local bonding configuration of carbon in carbon-based materials is of paramount importance since the properties of such materials strongly depend on the distribution of carbon hybridization states, the local ordering, and the degree of hydrogenation. Carbon 1s near edge X-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) spectroscopy is one of the most powerful techniques for gaining insights into the bonding configuration of near-surface carbon atoms. The common methodology for quantitatively evaluating the carbon hybridization state using C 1s NEXAFS measurements, which is based on the analysis of the sample of interest and of a highly ordered pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) reference sample, was reviewed and critically assessed, noting that inconsistencies are found in the literature in applying this method. A theoretical rationale for the specific experimental conditions to be used for the acquisition of HOPG reference spectra is presented together with the potential sources of uncertainty and errors in the correctly computed fraction of sp²-bonded carbon. This provides a specific method for analyzing the distribution of carbon hybridization state using NEXAFS spectroscopy. As an illustrative example, a hydrogenated amorphous carbon film was analyzed using this method and showed good agreement with X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (which is surface sensitive). Furthermore, the results were consistent with analysis from Raman spectroscopy (which is not surface sensitive), indicating the absence of a structurally different near-surface region in this particular thin film material. The present work can assist surface scientists in the analysis of NEXAFS spectra for the accurate characterization of the structure of carbon-based materials.