On the origin and magnitude of surface stresses due to metal nanofilms

Bowen, James and Cheneler, David (2016). On the origin and magnitude of surface stresses due to metal nanofilms. Nanoscale, 8 pp. 4245–4251.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1039/C5NR08789A


Metallisation is a vital process for micro- and nanofabrication, allowing the controlled preparation of material surfaces with thin films of a variety of metals. The films are often subjected to further processing, including etching, patterning, chemical modification, and additional lamination. The extensive applications of metallised substrates include chemical sensors and nanoelectronics. Here, we report an experimental study of the metallization of silicon cantilevers with nano-films of chromium and titanium. Analysis of the stress distribution throughout the cantilever showed that metallisation causes a constant stress along the length of the beam, which can be calculated from interferometric quantification of the beam curvature. The structure of the metal/silicon interface was imaged using electron microscopy in an attempt to ascertain the physical origin of the stress. A theoretical model is constructed for the stressed beam system, and it is shown that there is no single parameter that can describe the change in stress. The resultant structure after deposition varies significantly for each metal, which gives rise to a variety of stress directions and magnitudes.

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