Ge wetting layer increases ohmic plasmon losses in ag film due to segregation

Wróbel P., Stefaniuk T., Trzcinski M., Wronkowska A.A., Wronkowski A., Szoplik T.

ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces

7 (17), 2015, 8999–9005, 10.1021/acsami.5b01471

We have investigated the influence of the Ge wetting layer on both ohmic and scattering losses of a surface plasmon-polariton (SPP) wave in Ag film deposited on SiO2 substrate with an e-beam evaporator. Samples were examined by means of atomic force microscopy (AFM), spectroscopic ellipsometry (SE), two-dimensional X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and microscopic four-point probe (M4PP) sheet resistance measurements. Ag films of 100 nm thickness were deposited at 180 and 295 K directly onto the substrates with or without a Ge interlayer. In AFM scans, we confirm the fact that the commonly used Ge adhesion layer smooths the surface of Ag film and therefore reduces scattering losses of the SPP wave on surface roughness. However, our ellipsometric measurements indicate for the first time that segregation of Ge leads to a considerable increase in ohmic losses connected with a boost of the imaginary part of Ag permittivity in the 500–800 nm spectral range. Moreover, the trend develops over time, as confirmed in a series of measurements performed over an interval of three months. XPS analysis confirms the Ge segregation to the Ag free surface and most probably to grain boundaries. M4PP measurements show that the specific resistivity in Ag films evaporated on a Ge interlayer at 295 K is nearly twice as high as in layers deposited directly on a SiO2 substrate. The use of an amorphous Al2O3 overlayer prevents Ge segregation to free surface.