Effect of aluminum doping on the high-temperature stability and piezoresistive response of indium tin oxide strain sensors
Ceramic strain sensors based on reactively sputtered indium tin oxide (ITO) thin films doped with aluminum are being considered to improve the high-temperature stability and response. Ceramic strain sensors were developed to monitor the structural integrity of components employed in aerospace propulsion systems operating at temperatures in excess of 1500 °C. Earlier studies using electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis (ESCA) studies indicated that interfacial reactions between ITO and aluminum oxide increase the stability of ITO at elevated temperature. The resulting ESCA depth files showed the presence of two new indium-indium peaks at 448.85 and 456.40 eV, corresponding to the indium 3d5 and 3d3 binding energies. These binding energies are significantly higher than those associated with stoichiometric indium oxide. Based on these studies, a combinatorial chemistry approach was used to screen large numbers of possible concentrations to optimize the stability and performance of Al-doped ceramic strain sensors. Scanning electron microscopy was used to analyze the combinatorial libraries in which varying amounts of aluminum were incorporated into ITO films formed by cosputtering from multiple targets. Electrical stability and piezoresistive response of these films were compared to undoped ITO films over the same temperature range. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.