Ultra-smooth metal surfaces generated by pressure-induced surface deformation of thin metal films
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We present a mechanical pressing technique for generating ultra-smooth surfaces on thin metal films by flattening the bumps, asperities, rough grains and spikes of a freshly vacuum deposited metal film. The method was implemented by varying the applied pressure from 100 MPa to 600 MPa on an e-beam evaporated silver film of thickness 1000 Å deposited on double-polished (100)-oriented silicon surfaces, resulting in a varying degree of film smoothness. The surface morphology of the thin film was studied using atomic force microscopy. Notably, at a pressure of ∼600 MPa an initial silver surface with 13-nm RMS roughness was plastically deformed and transformed to an ultra-flat plane with better than 0.1 nm RMS. Our demonstration with the e-beam evaporated silver thin film exhibits the potential for applications in decreasing the scattering-induced losses in optical metamaterials, plasmonic nanodevices and electrical shorts in molecular-scale electronic devices.
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