In this paper, silver thin films deposited on SiO2 substrates with a germanium wetting layer fabricated by electron-beam evaporation were studied. The characterization methods of XTEM, FTIR, XRD and XRR were used to study the structural properties of silver thin films with various thicknesses of germanium layers. Silver films deposited with very thin (1-5nm) germanium wetting layers show about one half of improvement in the crystallite sizes comparing silver films without germanium layer. The surface roughness of silver thin films significantly decrease with a thin germanium wetting layer, reaching a roughness minimum around 1-5nm of germanium, but as the germanium layer thickness increases, the silver thin film surface roughness increases. The relatively higher surface energy of germanium and bond dissociation energy of silver-germanium were introduced to explain the effects the germanium layer made to the silver film deposition. However, due to the Stranski-Krastanov growth mode of germanium layer, germanium island formation started with increased thickness (5-15nm), which leads to a rougher surface of silver films. The demonstrated silver thin films are very promising for large-scale applications as molecular anchors, optical metamaterials, plasmonic devices, and several areas of nanophotonics.
Junce Zhang, David M. Fryauf, Juan J. Diaz Leon, Matthew Garrett, Logeeswaran VJ, Saif M. Islam, and Nobuhiko P. Kobayashi, "Deposition and characterizations of ultrasmooth silver thin films assisted with a germanium wetting layer," Proc. SPIE 9553, Low-Dimensional Materials and Devices, 955314 (Presented at SPIE Nanoscience + Engineering: August 13, 2015; Published: 9 September 2015); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2189857.
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