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Study of grain growth and defect formation in Ag thin films by planar TEM with in-situ heating

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 May 2014

S. Brossard
Affiliation:
Saint Gobain Recherche, 39 quai Lucien Lefranc, 93303 Aubervilliers, France.
F. Martin
Affiliation:
Saint Gobain Recherche, 39 quai Lucien Lefranc, 93303 Aubervilliers, France.
J. Bourgon
Affiliation:
Institut de Chimie des Matériaux de Paris-Est, 2/8 rue Henri Dunant, 94320 Thiais, France.
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Abstract

Silver thin films are used as a functional layer in many applications such as low-emissivity and solar control coatings on glass for insulating windows, as well as transparent conducting electrodes for OLEDs and PV. For these applications, the conductivity of the film is critical; it is linked to the crystallinity and the grain size of silver layers which thickness ranges from 5 to 15nm. Such coatings often undergo thermal treatments up to 700°C aimed at toughening the glass substrate or improving the coating itself by promoting grain growth and curing point defects. This treatment can however dramatically damage the silver layer by inducing the formation of defects in the layer, such as holes or silver domes, decreasing both conductivity and light transmission of the coatings. Because of the extreme thinness of the films (less than 15 nm), the investigation of these phenomena requires in situ imaging at the nanoscale. In this study, grain growth and defects formation were observed in 15 nm-thick Ag films encapsulated with zinc oxide and silicon nitride using Transmission Electron Microscopy with in-situ heating from ambient temperature to 600°C. Significant grain growth was found to occur only from 400°C, and from 500°C holes in the silver layer started to form and grow, as well as thick silver domes formed by dewetting. Irradiation by the electron beam was also found to cause grain growth.

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Copyright
Copyright © Materials Research Society 2014 

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