Tuesday, 12 October 2004 - 2:15 PM

This presentation is part of : Torquato Symposium

Thermal and Mechanical Limits for Amorphous Thin Films: Insights from the Potential Energy Landscape

Thomas M. Truskett1, Pooja Shah2, and Jeetain Mittal2. (1) Department of Chemical Engineering and Institute of Theoretical Chemistry, The University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, Mail Stop C0400, Austin, TX 78712, (2) Department of Chemical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, Mail Stop C0400, Austin, TX 78712

The ability to predict the behavior of materials near interfaces and in confinement is essential for understanding many problems of scientific and technological interest. For example, in the semiconductor industry, economic forces continue to drive the discovery of materials suitable for patterning sub-100 nm transistor features for logic and memory devices. Interfacial interactions and finite-size effects strongly influence material properties at these length scales, introducing structural and dynamic inhomogeneities that modify both the glass transition temperature and the phase diagram of the sample. Since many applications require materials that exhibit structural and mechanical rigidity over a broad range of conditions, predicting how interfaces will impact the stability of solid states is of particular importance. Unfortunately, the mechanisms that control structure and dynamics in confined spaces are still poorly understood, making property modifications extremely difficult to predict and control.

We discuss an energy landscape-based approach for studying the thermal and mechanical limits for forming amorphous solid films. In particular, we present an analytical theory for predicting how film-substrate interfacial properties and sample dimensions shift the location of a model material’s “ideal” glass transition relative to the bulk value. This theory captures the experimental trends of the kinetic glass transition for thin films and confined fluids and provides new predictions about the role of interfacial energy. Moreover, we examine how theory and simulations of the energy landscape can provide new insights into how molecular forces impact both the potential mechanisms for mechanical failure and the ultimate tensile strength of thin films.

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