PEALD of HfO2 Thin Films: Precursor Tuning and a New Near-Ambient-Pressure XPS Approach to in Situ Examination of Thin-Film Surfaces Exposed to Reactive Gases

Zanders, D. and Ciftyurek, E. and Subaşl, E. and Huster, N. and Bock, C. and Kostka, A. and Rogalla, D. and Schierbaum, K. and Devi, A.

Volume: 11 Pages: 28407-28422
DOI: 10.1021/acsami.9b07090
Published: 2019

A bottom-up approach starting with the development of new Hf precursors for plasma-enhanced atomic layer deposition (PEALD) processes for HfO2 followed by in situ thin-film surface characterization of HfO2 upon exposure to reactive gases via near-ambient-pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (NAP-XPS) is reported. The stability of thin films under simulated operational conditions is assessed, and the successful implementation of HfO2 dielectric layers in metal-insulator-semiconductor (MIS) capacitors is demonstrated. Among the series of newly synthesized mono-guanidinato-tris-dialkyl-amido class of Hf precursors, one of them, namely, [Hf{2-(iPrN)2CNEtMe}(NEtMe)3], was representatively utilized with oxygen plasma, resulting in a highly promising low-temperature PEALD process at 60 °C. The new precursors were synthesized in the multigram scale and thoroughly characterized by thermogravimetric analyses, revealing high and tunable volatility reflected by appreciable vapor pressures and accompanied by thermal stability. Typical ALD growth characteristics in terms of linearity, saturation, and a broad ALD window with constant growth of 1.06 Å cycle-1 in the temperature range of 60-240 °C render this process very promising for fabricating high-purity smooth HfO2 layers. For the first time, NAP-XPS surface studies on selected HfO2 layers are reported upon exposure to reactive H2, O2, and H2O atmospheres at temperatures of up to 500 °C revealing remarkable stability against degradation. This can be attributed to the absence of surface defects and vacancies. On the basis of these promising results, PEALD-grown HfO2 films were used as dielectric layers in the MIS capacitor device fabrication exhibiting leakage current densities less than 10-7 A cm-2 at 2 MV cm-1 and permittivities of up to 13.9 without postannealing. © 2019 American Chemical Society.

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