Nanoscale joule heating and electromigration enhanced ripening of silver nanowire contacts

Tze Bin Song, Yu Chen, Choong Heui Chung, Yang Yang, Brion Bob, Hsin Sheng Duan, Gang Li, King Ning Tu, Yu Huang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

328 Citations (Scopus)


Solution-processed metallic nanowire thin film is a promising candidate to replace traditional indium tin oxide as the next-generation transparent and flexible electrode. To date however, the performance of these electrodes is limited by the high contact resistance between contacting nanowires; so improving the point contacts between these nanowires remains a major challenge. Existing methods for reducing the contact resistance require either a high processing power, long treatment time, or the addition of chemical reagents, which could lead to increased manufacturing cost and damage the underlying substrate or device. Here, a nanoscale point reaction process is introduced as a fast and low-power-consumption way to improve the electrical contact properties between metallic nanowires. This is achieved via current-assisted localized joule heating accompanied by electromigration. Localized joule heating effectively targets the high-resistance contact points between nanowires, leading to the automatic removal of surface ligands, welding of contacting nanowires, and the reshaping of the contact pathway between the nanowires to form a more desirable geometry of low resistance for interwire conduction. This result shows the interplay between thermal and electrical interactions at the highly reactive nanocontacts and highlights the control of the nanoscale reaction as a simple and effective way of turning individual metallic nanowires into a highly conductive interconnected nanowire network. The temperature of the adjacent device layers can be kept close to room temperature during the process, making this method especially suitable for use in devices containing thermally sensitive materials such as polymer solar cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2804-2811
Number of pages8
JournalACS Nano
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • elecromigration
  • joule heating
  • polymer solar cell
  • ripening
  • silver nanowire
  • solution process
  • transparent electrode

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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