For Pd thin films, microstructural changes involved during hydrogen cycling provide the information needed to predict and optimize the film's mechanical strength. In this paper, a systematic study of the morphology, microstructure, texture, and stress has been performed on Pd thin films during hydrogen loading and deloading cycles at room temperature. Pd thin films of similar morphology were prepared by magnetron sputtering on substrates of different compliances, i.e., Si-oxide, Titanium (Ti) and Polyimide (PI). The evolution of the morphology, grain-orientation distribution (texture), state of stress, and dislocation densities are analyzed for each of the film substrate types for 20 hydrogen loading/deloading cycles. The lattice expansion and contraction caused by the transition from Pd to Pd-hydride and back result in a strong stress increase. This stress increase stabilizes after a few cycles by grain boundary motion that leads to a gradual enhancement of the (111) texture and changes in the dislocation density for Pd films that are strongly clamped on to an oxidized Si(100) wafer substrate with an intermediate layer (Ti or PI). For Pd on PI, the stress is also partly released by a crack-based (crack widening/growth/propagation) pathway. Pd films on Ti and PI do not buckle or blister after 20 hydrogen cycles. By providing a sufficiently compliant substrate the traditional problems of buckle-delamination of a film on a stiff substrate are mitigated.
- Pd thin films
- XRD hydrogen cycling