Growth Monitoring with Submonolayer Sensitivity Via Real-Time Thermal-Conductance Measurements

P. Ferrando-Villalba, D. Takegami, Ll Abad, J. Ràfols-Ribé, A. Lopeandia, G. Garcia, J. Rodriguez-Viejo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch


© 2019 authors. Published by the American Physical Society. Growth monitoring during the early stages of vapor deposition is of prime importance to understand the growth process, the microstructure, and thus the overall layer properties. We demonstrate that phonons can be used as an extremely sensitive probe to monitor the real-time evolution of film microstructure during growth, from incipient clustering to continuous film formation. For that purpose, a silicon nitride membrane-based sensor is fabricated to measure the in-plane thermal conductivity of thin film (conductive or nonconductive) samples. Operating with the 3ω-Völklein method at low frequencies, the sensor shows an exceptional resolution down to Δ(κt)=0.065W/mKnm, enabling accurate measurements even in poor conductive samples. Validation of the sensor performance is done by growth characterization of organic and metallic thin films to tackle the low to high thermal-conductivity range. In both cases, at early stages of growth, the extreme sensitivity of the technique has revealed an initial reduction of the effective thermal conductance of the supporting amorphous membrane, K, related to the surface phonon scattering enhanced by the incipient nanoclusters formation. As cluster coalescence advances, K reaches a minimum to rise up upon the percolation threshold. Subsequent island percolation produces a sharp increase of the conductance and once the surface coverage is completed K increases linearly with thickness. The thermal conductivity of the deposited films is also obtained from the slope of K with thickness.
Original languageEnglish
Article number014007
JournalPhysical Review Applied
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2019

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