19.06.2023 by Andrew Gillen, Aileen Sammler

Successful Installation of the First NETZSCH PicoTR in the Southern Hemisphere

The University of Wollongong, Australia (UOW) is one of the world's top modern universities, offering excellence in teaching, learning and research. It´s Institute for Superconducting and Electronic Materials (ISEM) is a world-class collaborative team conducting research in superconducting and electronic materials science and technology.

Distinguished Professor Xiaolin Wang heads the ISEM. His group has a keen interest in the world of extremes: Characterization of materials in ultra-thin film and ultra-high pressure environments. In June 2023, together with our colleagues from NETZSCH Japan, K.K. and NETZSCH Australia Pty Ltd, they installed the first PicoTR thermal analysis system in the southern hemisphere.

NanoTR and PicoTR are the thermal analysis systems of choice for thin films. They are the world’s first analyzers for providing high-precision measurements on thermophysical properties of metallic, oxide, organic and other films.

Picture: University of Wollongong together with colleagues from NETZSCH Japan K.K. at the completion of the successful PicoTR installation (from left: Naoko Ito (NJA), Kazuko Ishikawa (NJA), Dr Jiunn Jieh Lee (NAS), Dongqi Shi (ISEM), Andrew Gillen (NAS), Distinguished Prof. Xiaolin Wang (ISEM))
Pushing Boundaries: Revolutionary Research Unearths Unconventional Phenomena in Emerging Materials and Devices

In 2022, the University of Wollongong ISEM received funding to establish a unique Australian research facility: A combination of high-efficiency thin film thermophysical property analyzer and a complete package of tools for materials and devices fabrication and characterization at ultra-high pressures.

This exceptionally comprehensive and versatile set of tools will foster collaborative activities in Australia and worldwide supporting breakthrough research to discover novel unconventional phenomena in topological insulators, superconductors, spintronic materials, low energy devices, one- and two-dimensional micro- and nanomaterials, battery and biomagnetic materials.

The functionality of many materials critically depends on their capability of operating under extreme conditions, for many applications in energy generation, barocaloric cooling and structural materials in fusion or space technology. Currently, there is a great focus on emerging ultra-thin and 2D forms of materials derived from van-der Waals compounds.

NETZSCH is happy to be part of these groundbreaking research activities: Thus, on June 9, 2023, the PicoTR system with X-Y stage and temperature control system (-100 - 500°C) was successfully installed at University of Wollongong’s ISEM by NETZSCH.

Originally developed by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan, the NETZSCH PicoTR thermophysical property analyzer is a unique instrument specifically designed to measure Thermal ConductivityThermal conductivity (λ with the unit W/(m•K)) describes the transport of energy – in the form of heat – through a body of mass as the result of a temperature gradient (see fig. 1). According to the second law of thermodynamics, heat always flows in the direction of the lower temperature.thermal conductivity, Thermal DiffusivityThermal diffusivity (a with the unit mm2/s) is a material-specific property for characterizing unsteady heat conduction. This value describes how quickly a material reacts to a change in temperature.thermal diffusivity, thermal effusively, and interlayer thermal resistance of thin films in the range 10nm…1µm.

Applications include:

  1. Thermoelectric material, solar cell, fuel cell, OLED.
  2. Semiconductor memory, storage, metals, FeRAM, MRAM, PRAM, LSI, power devices, phase change and magnetic recording film, diffusion barrier film.
  3. LED, ceramic composites, electronics, resins for insulation films, transparent conductive films for FPD, interlayer dielectrics, gate insulators.
Figure: Experimental setup of the proposed: The NETZSCH NanoTR thermophysical property analyzer

PicoTR’s state-of-the-art signal processing technology allows for high speed measurements. With this ThermoreflectanceThermoreflectance is a method for determining the thermal diffusivity and thermal conductivity of thin films with thicknesses in the nanometer range.thermoreflectance apparatus, a laser pulse of 0.5-ps pulse width is periodically irradiated to the sample. The resulting temperature response is applied to a pulse laser (probe laser). Excellent s/n ratio can be attained by high-speed integration of repetitive signals. It can be easily switched between the RF and FF configurations though the software for a wide variety of samples.

Learn more about the NETZSCH PicoTR here.

Learn more about University of Wollongong’s ISEM here.