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The Seebeck Coefficient of Sputter Deposited Metallic Thin Films: The Role of Process Conditions

Department of Solid State Sciences, Ghent University, Krijgslaan 281 (S1), 9000 Gent, Belgium
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Coatings 2019, 9(5), 299; https://doi.org/10.3390/coatings9050299
Received: 9 April 2019 / Revised: 25 April 2019 / Accepted: 26 April 2019 / Published: 1 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Strategies in Thin Film Engineering by Magnetron Sputtering)
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Abstract

Because of their reduced dimensions and mass, thin film thermocouples are a promising candidate for embedded sensors in composite materials, especially for application in lightweight and smart structures. The sensitivity of the thin film thermocouple depends however on the process conditions during deposition. In this work, the influence of the discharge current and residual gas impurities on the Seebeck coefficient is experimentally investigated for sputter deposited copper and constantan thin films. The influence of the layer thickness on the film Seebeck coefficient is also discussed. Our observations indicate that both a decreasing discharge current or an increasing background pressure results in a growing deviation of the film Seebeck coefficient compared to its bulk value. Variations in discharge current or background pressure are linked as they both induce a variation in the ratio between the impurity flux to metal flux towards the growing film. This latter parameter is considered a quantitative measure for the background residual gas incorporation in the film and is known to act as a grain refiner. The observed results emphasize the importance of the domain size on the Seebeck coefficient of metallic thin films. View Full-Text
Keywords: Seebeck coefficient; background pressure; impurities; discharge current; domain size; layer thickness; sputter deposition Seebeck coefficient; background pressure; impurities; discharge current; domain size; layer thickness; sputter deposition
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Cougnon, F.G.; Depla, D. The Seebeck Coefficient of Sputter Deposited Metallic Thin Films: The Role of Process Conditions. Coatings 2019, 9, 299.

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