Oxygen stoichiometry of adhesion layer dictates thermal boundary conductance: Paper published in APL – Congrats Hans Olson!

Congrats to Hans Olson for his recent publication demonstrating that the oxygen stoichiometry of a Ti adhesion layer between an Au films and a non-metal substrate will impact the thermal boundary conductance across Au/Ti/substrate interfaces.  To maximize TBC, the Ti layer should be a pure metal (i.e., no oxygen defects), which is rarely achieved in high vacuum conditions, but can be achieved by depositing Ti layers in ultra-high vacuum.

Olson, D.H., Freedy, K.M., McDonnell, S., Hopkins, P.E., “The influence of titanium adhesion layer layer oxygen stoichiometry on thermal boundary conductance at gold contacts,” Applied Physics Letters 112, 171602 (2018). PDF (Supporting Information).


We experimentally demonstrate the role of oxygen stoichiometry on the thermal boundary conductance across Au/TiOx/substrate interfaces. By evaporating two different sets of Au/TiOx/ substrate samples under both high vacuum and ultrahigh vacuum conditions, we vary the oxygen composition in the TiOx layer from 0 x 2.85. We measure the thermal boundary conductance across the Au/TiOx/substrate interfaces with time-domain thermoreflectance and characterize the interfacial chemistry with x-ray photoemission spectroscopy. Under high vacuum conditions, we speculate that the environment provides a sufficient flux of oxidizing species to the sample surface such that one essentially co-deposits Ti and these oxidizing species. We show that slower deposi- tion rates correspond to a higher oxygen content in the TiOx layer, which results in a lower thermal boundary conductance across the Au/TiOx/substrate interfacial region. Under the ultrahigh vacuum evaporation conditions, pure metallic Ti is deposited on the substrate surface. In the case of quartz substrates, the metallic Ti reacts with the substrate and getters oxygen, leading to a TiOx layer. Our results suggest that Ti layers with relatively low oxygen compositions are best suited to maximize the thermal boundary conductance.

D. H. Olson would like to thank the Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) for their continued funding and support. We also appreciate the support from the Army Research Office, Grant Nos. W911NF-16-1-0320 and W911NF-16-1-0406.

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