The effects of deposition time on surface morphology, structural, electrical and optical properties of sputtered Ag-Cu thin films
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The preparation of designed nanostructured thin films combining nano grains of different compositions and physical properties represents a promising avenue for the exploration of novel collective behaviors with technological potentials. Herein, nanostructured Ag-Cu thin films with different surface morphology properties were grown by magnetron sputtering varying the deposition time (4-24 min) and fixing the other deposition conditions. X-ray diffraction studies corroborated that Cu and Ag tend to appear as separated phases with nanometric sizes due to the fact that these elements are rather immiscible. The deposited Cu tended to be partially oxidized with crystal sizes of several tens of nm, whereas the deposited Ag phase displayed a poor crystallinity with an average crystal size of around 3nm. However, at deposition time of few minutes, the formation of Ag-Cu crystals with a preferable crystallization orientation along the  direction was detected. The surface morphology of the obtained thin films was studied by atomic force microscopy determining the surface roughness and average particle sizes of the samples. These parameters were correlated with the plasmon resonance extinction bands of the different Ag-Cu films and their electrical properties, providing a reproducible route to obtain thin films with tuned electrical resistances and optical properties.
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