Thermal conductivity measurements of metal nanostructures

Leuven - Master projects/internships
More than two weeks ago

Explore the impact of small dimensions on thermal conductivity

The removal of the heat generated by active components belongs to the most crucial challenges of microelectronic technology. The ever-increasing component density in microelectronic chips leads also an ever-increasing power density. The generated heat needs to be conducted to the package and ultimately to an outside cooling system to avoid overheating and the resulting loss of functionality. This has become a key issue that limits the operation speed of chips for many generations. Recently, the thermal resistance of the interconnect system in the back-end of line has become a major factor in the thermal characteristics of chips. In the last technology nodes, the performance and reliability of conventional Cu interconnects have become increasingly limited for interconnect wire widths below 20 nm. Therefore, there is now a growing interest to replace Cu by alternative metals, for example Co, Ru, or Mo, which might outperform Cu in terms of line resistance and reliability for wire width of 15 nm and below. However, the thermal behavior of these alternative metals is only rudimentarily understood and therefore the impact of the introduction of those materials on the thermal behavior of the interconnects is still and open question.


In this internship or thesis, we would like to explore the thermal conductivity of ultrathin films of alterative metals, such as Ru, Co, or Mo. The goal will be the understanding of the intrinsic thermal properties of these metals as well as the effect of film thicknesses in the nanometer range. This will include the definition of suitable test structures, their fabrication, as well as the development of the measurement itself and the assessment of the measurement accuracy. The experimental work will be complemented with the thermal modeling of the test structures, in collaboration with the reliability modeling group at imec. Additional focus will be on the understanding of the underlying physics of thermal transport in metallic thin films.


The student will learn hands-on experience in thermal transport measurements in nanoscale systems, nanofabrication in a cleanroom environment, as well as introductions to a broad range of materials characterization techniques. She or he should have a strong interest in materials science and thin film characterization as well as in leading edge research on thermal properties of materials.

Type of project: Internship, Thesis, Combination of internship and thesis

Duration: minimum 6 months

Required degree: Master of Engineering Technology, Master of Science, Master of Engineering Science

Required background: Materials Engineering, Nanoscience & Nanotechnology, Physics

Supervising scientist(s): For further information or for application, please contact: Christoph Adelmann ( and Herman Oprins (

Allowance only for students from a non-Belgian university

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