"Electrical stability and homogeneity of silver nanowire (AgNW) networks are critical assets for increasing their robustness and reliability when integrated as transparent electrodes in devices. Our ability to distinguish defects, inhomogeneities, or inactive areas at the scale of the entire network is therefore a critical issue. We propose one-probe electrical mapping (1P-mapping) as a specific simple tool to study the electrical distribution in these discrete structures. 1P-mapping has allowed us to show that the tortuosity of the voltage equipotential lines of AgNW networks under bias decreases with increasing network density, leading to a better electrical homogeneity. The impact of the network fabrication technique on the electrical homogeneity of the resulting electrode has also been investigated. Then, by combining 1P-mapping with electrical resistance measurements and IR thermography, we propose a comprehensive analysis of the evolution of the electrical distribution in AgNW networks when subjected to increasing voltage stresses. We show that AgNW networks experience three distinctive stages: optimization, degradation, and breakdown. We also demonstrate that the failure dynamics of AgNW networks at high voltages occurs through a highly correlated and spatially localized mechanism. In particular the in situ formation of cracks could be clearly visualized. It consists of two steps: creation of a crack followed by propagation nearly parallel to the equipotential lines. Finally, we show that current can dynamically redistribute during failure, by following partially damaged secondary pathways through the crack."
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Written by Maria Carmen Jimenez Arevalo
Date of update May 24, 2018
Research Functional thin films and surface nano-engineering (FunSurf)