Florian Niekiel, M.Sc.

Lehrstuhl für Mikro- und Nanostrukturforschung & Center for Nanoanalysis and Electron Microscopy (CENEM), Friedrich-Alexander-Universitaet Erlangen-Nuernberg, Germany Authors | Florian Niekiel, Peter Schweizer, Simon M. Kraschewski, Benjamin Butz and Erdmann Spiecker Email |  Erdmann.Spiecker@ww.uni-erlangen.de

ApplicationThe Process of Solid-State Dewetting of Au Thin Films Studied by In-situ Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy
AuthorsFlorian Niekiel, Peter Schweizer, Simon M. Kraschewski, Benjamin Butz and Erdmann Spiecker
JournalActa Materialia, 2015
KeywordsSolid-state dewetting; Thin films; Morphology; Temporal evolution; Image analysis
Publication / D.O.I.Full Publication Here

The Process of Solid-State Dewetting of Au Thin Films Studied by In-situ Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy

ABSTRACT: Solid-state dewetting describes the transformation of thin films into a set of particles or droplets at temperatures well below the melting temperature of the bulk. In this work in situ scanning transmission electron microscopy has been used to study the dewetting behavior of discontinuous Au thin films (15 nm and 22 nm thick) on amorphous silicon nitride membranes at temperatures ranging from 300°C to 600°C. The combination of microscopic and statistical information enabled not only the qualitative discussion of the observed processes but also the quantification of the kinetics as well as the development of a model of the underlying morphological mechanism. A model-free master curve approach to the temporal evolution of the covered area at different temperatures is used to determine the activation energy of dewetting (1.04 ± 0.14 eV for the 15 nm thick film). A closer inspection reveals a multiple power law behavior, which is discussed in the frame of depercolation. Retraction of finger-like structures is found to be the dominant morphological mechanism based on the observed linear relationship between covered area and boundary length.

FIGURE RIGHT: 15 nm (left) and 22 nm (right) thick Au films in the as-deposited state: (a) plan view HAADF-STEM images, (b) cross sectional TEM bright field images of respective lift-out lamellae.

FIGURE BELOW: Comparison of HAADF images from the in situ STEM experiments on the 15 nm thick Au films. Experiment time t is indicated by red labels.

FIGURE BELOW: Comparison of HAADF images from the in situ STEM experiments on the 22 nm thick Au films. Experiment time t is indicated by red labels.

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