Nonlinear electrical response and breakdown of semicontinuous metal films

Yoad Yagil*, Guy Deutscher, David J. Bergman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The weakly nonlinear electrical response, determined by 3rd harmonic generation, and the breakdown current Ib of percolating systems are measured in real materials: semicontinuous Ag and Au films. The 3rd harmonic is interpreted as a direct measure of the 4th moment of the current distribution, and thus provides the critical exponent κ (normally determined by 1/f{hook} noise measurements). Observations of higher harmonics (5th and 7th), corresponding to higher moments of the current distribution, provide an estimation of higher critical indices. The breakdown current Ib was measured over three decades of film resistance. A new criterion for Ib is suggested, defined as the current at which a hot spot reaches the melting temperature of the metallic grains Tm. This criterion remains valid in the presence of nonlinear effects. The hot spot model yields a power law Ib ∞B-x, B=V3f{hook}/I3 where the upper and lower bounds of x are found to be 0.5 (extreme case of continuum percolation) and 0.36 (lattice percolation lower bound), respectively, in excellent agreement with the measured data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-328
Number of pages6
JournalPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 1994


FundersFunder number
Basic Research Fund of the Israel Academy of Sciencesa nd Humanities
US-Israel Binational ScienceF oundation


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