Combining Sub-nanometer Adhesion and Capping Layers for Thermally Stable Nanometer-Thick Au Films

William M. Abbott, Christopher P. Murray*, Frank Bello, Chuan Zhong, Christopher Smith, Cormac McGuinness, Daniyar Mamyraimov, Amanda K. Petford-Long, David McCloskey, John F. Donegan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Improving the thermal stability of Au thin films is critical if thermo-plasmonic applications such as heat-assisted magnetic recording are to become commercially viable. In this work, Al capping layers are deposited on M/Au films, where adhesion metal M = Ti or Ta, and are investigated for their utility in stabilizing Au thin films against dewetting. Contrary to previous investigations, it was found that thinner capping layers (0.5 nm) result in a greater stability than that conferred by thicker (1-5 nm) layers. Deposition of 0.5 nm of Al, which subsequently oxidizes when exposed to air, resulted in up to 10× stability enhancement. Similarly, capping with 0.5 nm Al resulted in less damping of the plasmonic response than with thicker capping layers. Finally, based on this work and previous work on metallic adhesion layers, optimally stable systems for thermo-plasmonic applications are proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10628-10633
Number of pages6
JournalACS Applied Nano Materials
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 25 2020


  • HAMR
  • adhesion
  • capping
  • dewetting
  • plasmonic
  • thin-film

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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