Repassivation of Pits in Aluminum Thin Films

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The effect of metal film thickness on repassivation of pits in sputter-deposited Al thin films was investigated in chloride solutions. The repassivation potential and the critical current density, which is the pit current density below which pits stop growing, were determined for pits in Al thin films ranging from 100 Ǻ to 43 μm in thickness. The repassivation potential first decreased as thickness increased from 100 to 4350 Ǻ, and then increased as the film thickness increased further. This behavior was found to be a consequence of the pit current-density/potential relationship. The critical current density, a more informative parameter, decreased for increasing metal film thickness, even when the repassivation potential increased. The critical current density is the minimum current density needed to maintain the critical pit environment and prevent repassivation. The repassivation potential for a given metal film thickness is the potential at which the pit current density drops below the critical value. Mass-transport and ohmic resistance both increase as the metal film thickness increases, but the former enhances pit stability and the latter destabilizes pitting in this system. Pit repassivation, and thus stability, are strongly influenced by mass-transport considerations for pits in very thin pits, even though dissolution at low potentials is not under pure mass-transport control. Ohmic effects become increasingly important as the film thickness increases.



repassivation, Al thin films, chloride solutions


Frankel, G. S.; Scully, J. R.; Jahnes, C. V. "Repassivation of Pits in Aluminum Thin Films," Journal of the Electrochemical Society, v. 143, no. 6, 1996, pp. 1834-1840.