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IP Profile: Molecular Nanoglue for Enhancing Interface Strength and Toughness

This invention provides a means to strengthen and toughen thin film interfaces by utilizing self-assembling molecular nanolayers (MNL) and thin films within the interface.

Organization: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)
Industry: Electronics & Microsystems, Semiconductors
Inventors: D. Gandhi, G. Ramanath, RPI
Technology Contact: B. Bornick, RPI

I.P. Overview courtesy of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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This invention provides a means to strengthen and toughen thin film interfaces by utilizing self-assembling molecular nanolayers (MNL) and thin films within the interface. These MNL’s consist of short organic chains that are terminated with desired functional groups to modify surface properties, and are sandwiched between strengthening thin film layers. Annealing causes the bonds in these layers to grow stronger and form an extremely tough nanoglue.

When sandwiching the MNL between copper and silica and annealing above 400°C, the resulting structure was 5 times tougher than a pristine Copper/Silica interface. Such high toughness values had previously only been achieved by using much thicker interface layers, which are less desirable for microelectronics.

This nanoglue continued to strengthen when heated up to 700° C - well above temperatures that would cause the unenhanced MNL’s to degrade. This characteristic could support applications in extreme environments like aerospace engines and power turbines. The molecular nanoglue is inexpensive, and the materials are readily available commercially. The method can be easily scaled up for large manufacturing applications.

RPI notes that the benefits of their patent pending molecular nanoglue include:

  • Obviates thick layered adhesives currently used
  • Unprecedented bonding and toughening interfaces
  • Can be combined with similar and or dissimilar interfaces consisting of organic, inorganic or metal films
  • Continues to strengthen up to temperatures as high as 700 degrees Celsius

Publication Reference:
“Annealing-induced interfacial toughening using a molecular nanolayer”, Nature, Vol. 477, pg. 299-303, May 17, 2007 MNL

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