A Novel Way to Characterize Metal-Insulator-Metal Devices via Nanoindentation

Prakash Periasamy, Ryan P. O'Hayre, Joseph J. Berry, Philip A. Parilla, David S. Ginley, Corinne E. Packard

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

9 Scopus Citations


Metal-Insulator-Metal (MIM) devices are crucial components for applications ranging from optical rectennas for harvesting sunlight to infrared detectors. To date, the relationship between materials properties and device performance in MIM devices is not fully understood, partly due to the difficulty in making and reproducing reliable devices. One configuration that is popular due to its simplicity and ease of fabrication is the point-contact diode where a metal tip serves as one of the metals in the MIM device. The intrinsic advantage of the point-contact configuration is that it is possible to achieve very small contact areas for the device thereby allowing very high-frequency operation. In this study, precise control over the contact area and penetration depth of an electrically conductive tip into a metal/insulator combination is achieved using a nanoindenter with in-situ electrical contact resistance measurement capabilities. A diamond probe tip, doped (degeneratively) with boron for conductivity, serves as the point contact and second 'metal' (b-Diamond) of the MIM diode. The base layer consists of Nb/Nb 2O 5 thin films on Si substrates and serves as the first metal /insulator combination of the MIM structure. The current-voltage response of the diodes is measured under a range of conditions to assess the validity and repeatability of the technique. Additionally, we compare the results of this technique to those acquired using a bent-wire approach and find that Nb/Nb 2O 5/b-Diamond MIM devices show an excellent asymmetry (60-300) and nonlinearity values (∼6-9. This technique shows great promise for screening metal-insulator combinations for performance without the uncertainty that stems from a typical bent-wire point-contact.

Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages4
StatePublished - 2011
Event37th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, PVSC 2011 - Seattle, WA, United States
Duration: 19 Jun 201124 Jun 2011


Conference37th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, PVSC 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySeattle, WA

Bibliographical note

See NREL/CP-5200-50727 for preprint

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5200-55749


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