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Thickness and microstructure effects in the optical and electrical properties of silver thin films
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The optical and electrical response of metalthin films approaching thicknesses in the range of the electron mean free path is highly affected by electronic scattering with the interfaces and defects. Here, we present a theoretical and experimental study on how thickness and microstructure affect the properties of Agthin films. We are able to successfully model the electrical resistivity and IR optical response using a thickness dependent electronic scattering time. Remarkably, the product of electronic scattering time and resistivity remains constant regardless of the thickness (τx ρ = C), with a value of 59 ± 2 μΩ cm ⋅ fs for Agfilms in the investigated range from 3 to 74 nm. Our findings enable us to develop a theoretically framework that allows calculating the optical response of metalthin films in the IR by using their measured thickness and resistivity. An excellent agreement is found between experimental measurements and predicted values. This study also shows the theoretical lower limit for emissivity in Agthin films according to their microstructure and thickness. Application of the model presented here will allow rapid characterization of the IR optical response of metalthin films, with important application in a broad spectrum of fundamental and industrial applications, including optical coatings, low-emissivity windows and semiconductor industry.
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