Novel Way to Characterize Metal-Insulator-Metal Devices via Nanoindentation: Preprint

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


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 itssimplicity 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 anelectrically 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/Nb2O5 thin films on Si substrates and serves as thefirst 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/Nb2O5/b-Diamond MIM devices show an excellent asymmetry (60-300) and nonlinearityvalues (~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 pages6
StatePublished - 2011
Event37th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC 37) - Seattle, Washington
Duration: 19 Jun 201124 Jun 2011


Conference37th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC 37)
CitySeattle, Washington

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5200-50727


  • metal-insulator-metal devices
  • MIM devices
  • nanoindentation


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