structural and functional high-throughput characterization of thin films

Alfred Ludwig
Institute for Materials, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany
[email protected]
The efficient discovery and optimization of thin film materials is a key challenge in materials
science. The combinatorial materials science approach promises to accelerate such materials
development. It comprises the fabrication of materials libraries, e.g. by combinatorial sputter
deposition processes, and the high-throughput (HT) characterization of the different thin film
samples contained in these libraries. HT methods need to be automated, quick, and nondestructive. In this contribution the HT methods for rapidly assessing compositional,
structural (crystallinity, phases), mechanical (Young’s modulus, hardness, stress, fatigue),
electrical, optical, magnetic, shape memory, hydrogen storage and photocatalytic properties
are reviewed. Some HT characterization equipment such as EDX and XRD is already
commercially available. Other HT methods were custom-developed, e.g. a test stand for the
HT characterization of phase transformations (e.g. in shape memory alloys) relying on MEMS
tools for parallel materials science experiments, as well as a modular high-throughput test
stand for the screening of thin-film materials libraries, which can carry out automated
electrical and magnetic measurements in the temperature range from -40°C to 300°C.
Software tools must be developed and adapted for analysing, correlating, combining and
visualizing the data sets resulting from applying these high-throughput measurements to the
materials libraries. The challenges and future prospects of HT characterization methods will
be discussed.