Investigating Polymer–Metal Interfaces by Grazing Incidence Small-Angle X-Ray Scattering from Gradients to Real-Time Studies
Growth regimes of gold thin films deposited by magnetron sputtering at oblique angles and low temperatures are studied from both theoretical and experimental points of view. Thin films were deposited in a broad range of experimental conditions by varying the substrate tilt angle and background pressure, and were analyzed by field emission scanning electron microscopy and grazing-incidence small-angle x-ray scattering techniques. Results indicate that the morphological features of the films strongly depend on the experimental conditions, but can be categorized within four generic microstructures, each of them defined by a different bulk geometrical pattern, pore percolation depth and connectivity. With the help of a growth model, a microstructure phase diagram has been constructed where the main features of the films are depicted as a function of experimentally controllable quantities, finding a good agreement with the experimental results in all the studied cases.