Metal–insulator transition of ultrathin sputtered metals on phenolic resin thin films: Growth morphology and relations to surface free energy and reactivity

Christian Schuster*, Harald Rennhofer, Heinz Amenitsch, Helga C. Lichtenegger, Alois Jungbauer, Rupert Tscheliessing

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Nanostructured metal assemblies on thin and ultrathin polymeric films enable state of the art technologies and have further potential in diverse fields. Rational design of the structure– function relationship is of critical importance but aggravated by the scarcity of systematic studies. Here, we studied the influence of the interplay between metal and polymer surface free energy and reactivity on the evolution of electric conductivity and the resulting morphologies. In situ resistance measurements during sputter deposition of Ag, Au, Cu and Ni films on ultrathin reticulated polymer films collectively reveal metal–insulator transitions characteristic for Volmer–Weber growth. The different onsets of percolation correlate with interfacial energy and energy of adhesion weakly but as expected from ordinary wetting theory. A more pronounced trend of lower percolation thickness for more reactive metals falls in line with reported correlations. Ex situ grazing incidence small angle X-ray scattering experiments were performed at various thicknesses to gain an insight into cluster and film morphology evolution. A novel approach to interpret the scattering data is used where simulated pair distance distributions of arbitrary shapes and arrangements can be fitted to experiments. Detailed approximations of cluster structures could be inferred and are discussed in view of the established parameters describing film growth behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number589
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalNanomaterials
Volume11
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Deposition
  • In situ resistivity
  • Metal clusters
  • Polymer-metal interfaces
  • Surface free energy
  • Thin films

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)

Fields of Expertise

  • Human- & Biotechnology

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