Complexion dictated thermal resistance with interface density in reactive metal multilayers

CB Saltonstall and ZD McClure and MJ Abere and D Guzman and ST Reeve and A Strachan and PG Kotula and DP Adams and TE Beechem, PHYSICAL REVIEW B, 101, 245422 (2020).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.101.245422

Multilayers composed of aluminum (Al) and platinum (Pt) exhibit a nonmonotonic trend in thermal resistance with bilayer thickness as measured by time domain thermoreflectance. The thermal resistance initially increases with reduced bilayer thickness only to reach a maximum and then decrease with further shrinking of the multilayer period. These observations are attributed to the evolving impact of an intermixed amorphous complexion approximately 10 nm in thickness, which forms at each boundary between Al- and Pt-rich layers. Scanning transmission electron microscopy combined with energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy find that the elemental composition of the complexion varies based on bilayer periodicity as does the fraction of the multilayer composed of this interlayer. These variations in complexion mitigate boundary scattering within the multilayers as shown by electronic transport calculations employing density-functional theory and nonequilibrium Green's functions on amorphous structures obtained via finite temperature molecular dynamics. The lessening of boundary scattering reduces the total resistance to thermal transport leading to the observed nonmonotonic trend thereby highlighting the central role of complexion on thermal transport within reactive metal multilayers.

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