Self-limiting low-temperature growth of crystalline AlN thin films by plasma-enhanced atomic layer deposition
We report on the self-limiting growth and characterization of aluminum nitride (AlN) thin films. AlN films were deposited by plasma-enhanced atomic layer deposition on various substrates using trimethylaluminum (TMA) and ammonia (NH 3). At 185 °C, deposition rate saturated for TMA and NH 3 doses starting from 0.05 and 40 s, respectively. Saturative surface reactions between TMA and NH 3 resulted in a constant growth rate of ∼ 0.86 Å/cycle from 100 to 200 °C. Within this temperature range, film thickness increased linearly with the number of deposition cycles. At higher temperatures (≤ 225 °C) deposition rate increased with temperature. Chemical composition and bonding states of the films deposited at 185 °C were investigated by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. High resolution Al 2p and N 1s spectra confirmed the presence of AlN with peaks located at 73.02 and 396.07 eV, respectively. Films deposited at 185 °C were polycrystalline with a hexagonal wurtzite structure regardless of the substrate selection as determined by grazing incidence X-ray diffraction. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy images of the AlN thin films deposited on Si (100) and glass substrates revealed a microstructure consisting of nanometer sized crystallites. Films exhibited an optical band edge at ∼ 5.8 eV and an optical transmittance of > 95% in the visible region of the spectrum. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.