Applied Surface Science, Vol.253, No.21, 8718-8724, 2007
Effect Of O-2 gas partial pressure on structures and dielectric characteristics of rf sputtered ZrO2 thin films
Amorphous and polycrystalline zirconium oxide thin films have been deposited by reactive rf magnetron sputtering in a mixed argon/oxygen or pure oxygen atmosphere with no intentional heating of the substrate. The films were characterized by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HR-TEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), spectroscopic ellipsometry (SE), and capacitance versus voltage (C-V) measurements to investigate the variation of structure, surface morphology, thickness of SiO2-like interfacial layer as well as dielectric characteristics with different oxygen partial pressures. The films deposited at low oxygen partial pressures (less than 15%) are amorphous and dense with a smooth surface. In contrast, the films prepared at an oxygen partial pressure higher than 73% are crystallized with the microstructure changing from the mixture of monoclinic and tetragonal phases to a single monoclinic structure. The film structural transition is believed to be consequences of decrease in the oxygen vacancy concentration in the film and of increase of the energetically neutral particles in the plasma due to an increased oxygen partial pressure. SE measurements showed that significant interfacial SiO2 growth has taken place above approximately 51%. The best C-V results in terms of relative dielectric constant values are obtained for thin films prepared at an oxygen partial pressure of 15%. (c) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.