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Controlled electromigration and oxidation of free-standing copper wires


We have studied controlled electromigration (EM) in free-standing copper wires. Besides electrical characterization by voltage–current measurements, structural analyses have been performed by means of scanning electron microscopy and cross-sectional microprobe measurements. We have found that oxidation during the EM in air stabilizes the free-standing wire against uncontrolled blowing, making it possible to thin the conductive part of the wire down to a conductance of a few conductance quanta \(G_0=2e^2{/}h\). The decisive influence of oxidation by air on the EM process was confirmed by control experiments performed under ultra-high vacuum conditions. In line with these findings, free-standing Au wires were difficult to thin down reproducibly to a conductance of a few \(G_0\). Estimates of the local temperature in the free-standing wire are obtained from finite element method calculations.

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We thank S. Schneider for help with the SEM and C. Pérez León for useful discussions. M. Marz is grateful for support by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung). This work was supported by the ERC Starting Grant NANOCONTACTS (No. 239838) and by the Ministry of Science and Arts (BW), in the framework of its Schlieben-Lange program (Ministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst Baden-Württemberg).

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Hauser, J.S., Schwichtenberg, J., Marz, M. et al. Controlled electromigration and oxidation of free-standing copper wires. Appl. Phys. A 122, 1068 (2016).

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