Grain growth and morphology of In2O3:Pd nanocomposite films

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Thin film nanocomposites based on semiconducting oxides and palladium have been systematically studied using combinatorial chemistry techniques to optimize their thermoelectric properties. These nanocomposites have considerable potential for energy harvesting applications in harsh environments and were prepared by embedding palladium nanoparticles into an indium oxide matrix via co-sputtering from metal and ceramic targets. The as-deposited films were largely amorphous and thus were subsequently heat treated in nitrogen ambients to produce crystalline nanocomposites. These nanocomposite films were screened for their thermoelectric properties at room temperature as a function of composition, and the resulting films exhibited thermoelectric power factors that were significantly greater than the semiconducting oxides deposited directly from ceramic targets. Based on these rapid screening protocols employing hundreds of micro-thermocouples, the most promising nanocomposite films in terms of thermoelectric power factor were down-selected. Transmission electron microscopy, selected area electron diffraction, and scanning electron microscopy were then used to study the microstructural changes in these films as a function of temperature. When thermally cycled to 800 °C, an abrupt transition from normal, equiaxed grain growth to abnormal (spherulitic growth) was observed at a threshold palladium loading which was also optimal for thermoelectric energy harvesting. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Thin Solid Films