The stress and microstructure of a thin film evolve in time if the deposition is interrupted or terminated. To establish the parameters which control the kinetics of both processes, ultra thin Au layers were sputter deposited on Si membranes and the stress evolution was monitored by a vibrating membrane technique. The evolution of the surface morphology was studied by scanning tunnelling microscopy. Aging after the termination of each deposition causes stress evolution towards higher tension which, around ambient temperature, follows an exponential law with a characteristic relaxation time of the order of tenths of seconds. This time was found to depend strongly on the accumulated film thickness as well as the surface morphology. The intrinsic stress of the depositing layer increases with the coverage of the film on the substrate. Scanning Tunnelling Microscopy shows that the film grows in a Volmer-Weber mode and that the average stress reaches a sharp maximum as the film become continuous.
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Su, Q., Bailly, C., Wuttig, M. et al. Stress Evolution Kinetics in Ultra Thin Sputtered Au Films. MRS Online Proceedings Library 356, 69–74 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-356-69