The trend of miniaturization has highlighted the problems of heat dissipation and electromigration in nanoelectronic device interconnects, but not amorphization. While amorphization is known to be a high pressure and/or temperature phenomenon, we argue that defect density is the key factor, while temperature and pressure are only the means. For nanoscale interconnects carrying modest current density, large vacancy concentrations may be generated without the necessity of high temperature or pressure due to the large fraction of grain boundaries and triple points. To investigate this hypothesis, we performed in situ transmission electron microscope (TEM) experiments on 200nm thick (80nm average grain size) aluminum specimens. Electron diffraction patterns indicate partial amorphization at modest current density of about 10 5Acm 2, which is too low to trigger electromigration. Since amorphization results in drastic decrease in mechanical ductility as well as electrical and thermal conductivity, further increase in current density to about 7×10 5Acm 2 resulted in brittle fracture failure. Our molecular dynamics (MD) simulations predict the formation of amorphous regions in response to large mechanical stresses (due to nanoscale grain size) and excess vacancies at the cathode side of the thin films. The findings of this study suggest that amorphization can precede electromigration and thereby play a vital role in the reliability of micro/nanoelectronic devices.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Chemistry
- General Materials Science
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering