Radical enhanced atomic layer deposition of metals and oxides

Antti Niskanen
Abstract & Cover

Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) is a chemical, gas-phase thin film deposition method. It is known for its ability for accurate and precise thickness control, and uniform and conformal film growth. One area where ALD has not yet excelled is film deposition at low temperatures. Also deposition of metals, besides the noble metals, has proven to be quite challenging. To alleviate these limitations, more aggressive reactants are required. One such group of reactants are radicals, which may be formed by dissociating gases. Dissociation is most conveniently done with a plasma source. For example, dissociating molecular oxygen or hydrogen, oxygen or hydrogen radicals are generated. The use of radicals in ALD may surmount some of the above limitations: oxide film deposition at low temperatures may become feasible if oxygen radicals are used as they are highly reactive. Also, as hydrogen radicals are very effective reducing agents, they may be used to deposit metals. In this work, a plasma source was incorporated in an existing ALD reactor for radical generation, and the reactor was used to study five different Radical Enhanced ALD processes. The modifications to the existing reactor and the different possibilities during the modification process are discussed. The studied materials include two metals, copper and silver, and three oxides, aluminium oxide, titanium dioxide and tantalum oxide. The materials were characterized and their properties were compared to other variations of the same process, utilizing the same metal precursor, to understand what kind of effect the non metal precursor has on the film properties and growth characteristics. Both metals were deposited successfully, and silver for the first time by ALD. The films had low resistivity and grew conformally in the ALD mode, demonstrating that the REALD of metals is true ALD. The oxide films had exceptionally high growth rates, and aluminium oxide grew at room temperature with low cycle times and resulted in good quality films. Both aluminium oxide and titanium dioxide were deposited on natural fibres without damaging the fibre. Tantalum oxide was also deposited successfully, with good electrical properties, but at slightly higher temperature than the other two oxides, due to the evaporation temperature required by the metal precursor. Overall, the ability of REALD to deposit metallic and oxide films with high quality at low temperatures was demonstrated.

Source of Information
FinALD40 exhibition material, http://www.aldcoe.fi/events/finald40.pdf
University of Helsinki, Department of Chemistry, Laboratory of Inorganic Chemistry
(Helsinki, Finland)
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