Negative-ion bombardment increases during low-pressure sputtering deposition and their effects on the crystallinities and piezoelectric properties of scandium aluminum nitride films

Takumi Tominaga, Shinji Takayanagi*, Takahiko Yanagitani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Scandium aluminum nitride (ScAlN) films are being actively researched to explore their potential for use in bulk acoustic wave and surface acoustic wave resonators because of their good piezoelectric properties. Sputtering is commonly used in ScAlN film deposition. Unfortunately, it has been reported that film quality metrics such as the crystallinity and piezoelectric properties can deteriorate before the Sc concentration reaches 43% without an isostructural phase transition. One reason for this is bombardment with negative ions generated from carbon and oxygen impurities in the Sc ingots. Because the number of negative ions increases during low-pressure sputtering deposition, their effect on film quality may be considerable. In this study, we investigated negative-ion bombardment of the substrate during sputtering deposition and its effects on ScAlN crystallinity and piezoelectric properties. Negative-ion energy distribution measurements indicated that many more negative ions collide with the substrate during ScAlN film deposition than during AlN deposition. In addition, decreasing the sputtering pressure further increased the number of negative ions and their energies. It is well known that film quality improves at low pressures because increasing the mean free path reduces thermalization and scattering of sputtered particles. Although, AlN crystallinity and piezoelectric properties improved at low pressures, the properties of ScAlN films deteriorated dramatically. Therefore, the results indicated that ion bombardment increase at low pressure adversely effects ScAlN crystal growth, deteriorating crystallinity and piezoelectric properties. ScAlN films may be improved further by suppressing negative-ion bombardment of the substrate.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105306
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Volume55
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Mar 10

Keywords

  • ScAlN
  • negative-ion bombardment
  • piezoelectric property
  • sputtering deposition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films

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