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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/5362

Title: Studies of the electrical properties and electroforming of thin insulating films
Authors: Gould, Robert David
Keywords: Dearnaley filamentary conduction theory
Potential distribution measurements
Electron attenuation lengths
Bragg diffraction
Angular distribution
Publication Date: 1973
Abstract: Evaporated thin film sandwich structures of Au-SiOX-Au have been studied. These normally show electroforming effects and subsequently electron emission, electroluminescence, negative resistance and thermal-voltage memory effects. Previous work in the field is critically reviewed. It was shown that the time dependence of the device current and emission current can be explained by making certain modifications to the filamentary conduction theory of Dearnaley. Detailed direct current-voltage measurements have revealed the existence of two different types of breakdown behaviour. At voltages less than 20 V single-hole breakdowns were observed, while in the voltage range 20-30 V large scale irreversible breakdown behaviour took place. The dependence of the voltage at which this occurs (Vß) on insulator thickness and temperature, together with measurements of the device temperature at breakdown and visual evidence of damage after breakdown, has led to the conclusion that this type of breakdown is a thermal effect. Such measurements also pointed to the existence of a high field region within the insulator, and potential distribution measurements confirmed this hypothesis. The high field region was also in evidence at low temperatures where the device current (Ic) showed a log Ic α Vb1/2 dependence on applied voltage (Vb). Measurements of electron attenuation lengths in SiOx gave values of 400-1000 Å irrespective of temperature. The temperature independence was consistent with the emitted electron energy distributions at 77 and 300 K. It was shown that electrons underwent Bragg diffraction through the top Au electrode. The angular distribution of emitted electrons became more isotropic with increasing voltage. Measurements on other systems showed that Al-SiOx/B2O3-Al devices could withstand very high voltages and give improved emission efficiency, while Au-CaBr2-Au and Au-Si3N4-Au devices showed very high initial currents and current-voltage characteristics which were irreversible.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University.
URI: http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/5362
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