Nanoscale Mapping of Potential Barrier Degradation at BaTiO3-Ni Interfaces

Alessio Morelli, Garry Mc Laughlin, Maureen Strawhorne, John Byrne, Patrick Lemoine

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Scanning Kelvin probe microscopy was used to investigate the evolution of the Ni-BaTiO3 interfacial potential barriers in multilayer ceramic capacitors degraded by the highly accelerated life test method. We detect electric field discontinuities at such interfaces, which through analysis of the expected band diagrams, are associated with the presence of Schottky barriers. The decrease of discontinuities at the cathode in degraded capacitors denotes barrier lowering, indicative of a transition from Schottky to Ohmic contact, validating the proposed mechanism of oxygen vacancies electromigration being at the origin of insulation resistance degradation. Extrapolation of the depletion layer width is consistent with previous observations, and the possibility toward the use of this technique to obtain quantitative information is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4649-4656
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Electronic Materials
Issue number10
Early online date30 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 26 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge funding from Invest Northern Ireland (RD0713920). A.M. acknowledges funding from the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

Publisher Copyright:


  • barium titanate
  • nickel
  • Schottky barrier
  • Kelvin probe microscopy
  • multilayer ceramic capacitor
  • degradation


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