Platinum is highly conductive but it has poor mechanical properties and is not very durable when used in mechanical devices. In the emerging field of nanoelectromechanical (NEM) contact switches, reliability has been identified as a key concern, and to fully enable NEM switches, new materials are needed that can perform well mechanically and electrically.
Researchers at Penn have developed a new way to form thin films of Pt3Si, which has substantially better mechanical properties than platinum while maintaining high electrical conductivity. Source-limited and kinetically limited solid state diffusion methods have been developed to create stochiometrically-controlled PtxSi films with a high degree of phase selectivity.
Thin films of this material have not been previously described. Metal silicide thin films with tailored stoichiometries, and thus, with tailored properties, have a variety of applications from high-temperature engine components to plasmonic materials, and other electronic components.
The new material has similar electrical properties as platinum but it also exhibits high hardness, stiffness, temperature resistance, and wear-resistance. These properties would make it very useful for electromechanical components manufacturing, where long-term durability and device reliability are major concerns. The process used to create this thin film is also compatible with existing complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) fabrication processes.
Stage of Development:
Proof of concept patterning of thin films on mm scale silicon wafers
Dr. Rob Carpick
Patent application filed
Carpick et al (2015) Novel Metal Silicide Thin Films by Design via Controlled Solid-State Diffusion. Chemistry of Materials.
Docket # 15-7335