Thickness induced metal to insulator charge transport and unusual hydrogen response in granular palladium nanofilms
This work reports a systematic study of the evolution of charge transport properties in granular ultra-thin films of palladium of thicknesses varying between 6 nm and 2 nm. While the films with thickness >4 nm exhibit metallic behaviour, that at 3 nm thickness undergoes a metal–insulator transition at 19.5 K. In contrast, the 2 nm thick film remained insulating at all temperatures, with transport following Mott's variable range hopping. At room temperature, while the thicker films exhibit resistance decrease upon H2 exposure, the insulating film showed an anomalous initial resistance increase before switching to a subsequent decrease. The nanostructure dependent transport and the ensuing H2 response is modeled on a percolation model, which also explores the relevance of film thickness as a macroscopic control parameter to engineer the desired system response in granular metal films.