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High Quality, Dense Thin Films Using Metal/Metal Alloy Additives



  • Solid oxide fuel cells
  • Gas separation
  • Mixed ionic electronic thin film devices
  • Sensors
  • Magnetic films
  • Various barrier coatings
  • Potentially LaCrO3 interconnects


  • Produces high quality, gas-tight, dense films in a single step
  • Net zero volume change in film during sintering allows for firing a broad range of films onto non-shrinking substrates
  • Because co-firing is unnecessary, the sintering profiles of the substrate and film need not match
  • Works with a variety of deposition methods


Steven Visco, Craig Jacobson, and Lutgard DeJonghe have developed an innovative method for making a highly dense film of a metal oxide or mixed metal oxide by applying a porous film composed of fine metal or metal alloy and metal oxide particles to a substrate. In the Berkeley Lab technique, a metal powder corresponding to a conductive metal oxide is mixed with the conductive oxide material and applied to the substrate by one of a variety of deposition methods: colloidal aerosol spray, electrophoretic deposition, slurry dip-coat, or vacuum infiltration. Sintering of the bilayer is initiated in a reducing environment. During sintering, oxygen is bled into the furnace and the metal in the membrane oxidizes and expands, closing off pores in the film. In response to the heat, the oxide particles decrease their surface area and densify. These expanding and contracting effects essentially cancel each other out so that no film shrinkage occurs. This technique produces high quality, gas-tight, dense films in a single step.

The Berkeley Lab method has a combination of benefits that makes it preferable to other practices. It is preferable to sol-gel techniques because it produces thicker films and enables the use of porous substrates. Unlike plasma spray methods of deposition, it can produce very thin films. Compared to bulk reaction bonding, it provides greater oxygen access in the thin film and therefore greater homogeneity. Because co-firing is unnecessary, the sintering profiles of the substrate and film do not need to match.


  • U.S. Patent #6,921,557
  • Available for exclusive or non-exclusive licensing within all fields of use with the following exception: only available for non-exclusive licensing within the field of use covering solid oxide fuel cells with electrical power output between 0.5kW and 40kW that are designed for installation as permanent fixtures in residential buildings and small commercial business facilities.



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