Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Strengthening thin-film bonds with ultrafast data collection

23.10.2014

When studying extremely fast reactions in ultrathin materials, two measurements are better than one. A new research tool invented by researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) captures information about both temperature and crystal structure during extremely fast reactions in thin-film materials.*

The combined device will help scientists study new materials and processes used to make advanced technologies, including state-of-the-art semiconductors and flat-screen display devices, says David LaVan, a NIST materials scientist who co-led the study.


Temperature and structure: Graph shows heat absorbed by a thin film of aluminum as its temperature increased. Inset boxes show electron diffraction patterns captured by DTEM as temperature changes. The patterns reveal the crystal structure and orientation of the aluminum. At low temperatures, pattern is characteristic of a face-centered-cubic crystal structure. When the sample is heated past the large melting peak, the spots disappear indicating that the aluminum has lost its crystal structure due to melting.

Credit: NIST

Modern electronics manufacturing often pushes the limits of current measurement technology. Making a flat-screen display requires bonding a large sheet of a pure, rare material to an underlying metal substrate with as few defects as possible. To do so, manufacturers typically sandwich a thin film between the two materials and heat it rapidly to high temperatures, causing it to react and bond the metals.

This method usually works, but industry researchers would like to optimize the process. And existing tools to describe what's happening in the reactive thin film provide only incomplete information. One such technique, nanocalorimetry, can track very precisely large temperature changes—at rates up to ,1000 degrees Celsius per millisecond—that occur at a very small scale.

Such a measurement can alert researchers to a material's phase transitions, for example, when a metal melts. But nanocalorimetry tells researchers little about the actual chemical processes or microstructural changes they are measuring as a material heats up or cools down.

To study these changes, LaVan's LLNL collaborators Geoffrey Campbell, Thomas LaGrange and Bryan Reed developed a different device, the dynamic transmission electron microscope (DTEM). In traditional transmission electron microscopy, diffraction and transmission patterns made by electrons passing through a thin sample provide information about how the sample's atoms are arranged. But TEM typically requires that the sample maintain one crystal structure for an extended period, as the microscope's detector captures enough electrons to generate an image.

DTEM, by contrast, captures structural information very rapidly. It relies on a pulsed laser to send short, bright blasts of electrons through a sample. LaVan and his colleagues at NIST and Johns Hopkins realized that if the LLNL group's DTEM laser pulses were synched with a rapid temperature rise, the researchers could simultaneously track phase transitions and structural changes in materials they were studying. "It's like peanut butter and chocolate," LaVan says. "If we can somehow get these two instruments working simultaneously, we'll have the whole story."

But first the researchers needed to shrink the circuitry for their nanocalorimeter to a tenth of its original size, so that it could fit inside the microscope. The researchers also needed to write new software to synchronize the microscope's electron pulses with the nanocalorimeter's rapid heating pulses. "To get [the devices] to work together was really a substantial effort from three different research groups," LaVan says.

Finally, LaVan and team member Michael Grapes, a research associate at NIST, and graduate student in materials science Timothy Weihs' group at Johns Hopkins, flew the redesigned nanocalorimeter to Livermore, synchronized it with the DTEM, and ran tests on thin films of materials such as aluminum, whose microstructural and thermal properties are well understood. The scientists found that, as expected, the nanocalorimeter recorded phase transitions at the same time the DTEM recorded structural changes, and both sets of measurements were consistent with their study materials' known properties.

The research team is already moving on to study other, less well-understood materials. Recently, the scientists have used their combined nanocalorimeter-DTEM to measure what happens when aluminum and nickel combine to form thin-film alloys. The team's study provides, for the first time, simultaneous structural and thermal data on this reaction at high heating rates, LaVan says.

###

* M.D. Grapes, T. LaGrange, L.H. Friedman, B.W. Reed, G.H. Campbell ,T.P. Weihs and D.A. LaVan. Combining nanocalorimetry and dynamic transmission electron microscopy for in situ characterization of materials processes under rapid heating and cooling. Review of Scientific Instruments 85, 084902. Published online Aug. 18, 2014.

Michael Baum | Eurek Alert!

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Serendipity uncovers borophene's potential
23.02.2017 | Northwestern University

nachricht Switched-on DNA
20.02.2017 | Arizona State University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

23.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field

23.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>