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Open AccessArticle

SmS/EuS/SmS Tri-Layer Thin Films: The Role of Diffusion in the Pressure Triggered Semiconductor-Metal Transition

Lumilab, Department of Solid State Sciences, Ghent University, Krijgslaan 281/S1, 9000 Gent, Belgium
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Nanomaterials 2019, 9(11), 1513; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano9111513
Received: 16 September 2019 / Revised: 14 October 2019 / Accepted: 20 October 2019 / Published: 24 October 2019
While SmS thin films show an irreversible semiconductor-metal transition upon application of pressure, the switching characteristics can be modified by alloying with other elements, such as europium. This manuscript reports on the resistance response of tri-layer SmS/EuS/SmS thin films upon applying pressure and on the correlation between the resistance response and the interdiffusion between the layers. SmS thin films were deposited by e-beam sublimation of Sm in an H2S atmosphere, while EuS was directly sublimated by e-beam from EuS. Structural properties of the separate thin films were first studied before the deposition of the final nanocomposite tri-layer system. Piezoresistance measurements demonstrated two sharp resistance drops. The first drop, at lower pressure, corresponds to the switching characteristic of SmS. The second drop, at higher pressure, is attributed to EuS, partially mixed with SmS. This behavior provides either a well-defined three or two states system, depending on the degree of mixing. Depth profiling using x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) revealed partial diffusion between the compounds upon deposition at a substrate temperature of 400 °C. Thinner tri-layer systems were also deposited to provide more interdiffusion. A higher EuS concentration led to a continuous transition as a function of pressure. This study shows that EuS-modified SmS thin films are possible systems for piezo-electronic devices, such as memory devices, RF (radio frequency) switches and piezoresistive sensors. View Full-Text
Keywords: SmS; EuS; semiconductor-metal transition; structural properties; piezoresistivity; interdiffusion; rare earths; thin films SmS; EuS; semiconductor-metal transition; structural properties; piezoresistivity; interdiffusion; rare earths; thin films
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Sousanis, A.; Poelman, D.; Smet, P.F. SmS/EuS/SmS Tri-Layer Thin Films: The Role of Diffusion in the Pressure Triggered Semiconductor-Metal Transition. Nanomaterials 2019, 9, 1513.

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