Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Study by atomistic theory and high-resolution electron microscopies of Cu atoms at an Al
- Author(s): Plitzko, Jurgen M.
- Campbell, Geoffrey H.
- King, Wayne E.
- Foiles, Stephen M.
- Kisielowski, Christian
- Duscher, Gerd
- et al.
New insight into the atomic segregation of copper to an aluminum grain boundary has been obtained using atomic resolution electron microscopy techniques coupled with ab-initio electronic structure calculations. We find the copper segregation to be site specific, changing the structure of the boundary by unexpectedly occupying interstitial sites. The calculated energy for segregation was found to be sufficient for essentially all of the interstitial sites to be filled. Minor elemental constituents in materials can have profound effects on their engineering performance, often through segregation to grain boundaries in the host material. One important example is the great resistance to electromigration damage in microelectronics imparted by small additions of copper to aluminum interconnects.