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The reactive pulsed dc sputtering technique is widely used for the deposition of oxide films. The operating pressure for sputtering is commonly above 0.13 Pa. In this study, however, aluminum oxide (alumina) films were deposited at operating pressures from 0.06 to 0.4 Pa using a sputtering system equipped with a scanning magnetron cathode and a pulsed dc power supply. The pulsed dc power was found to be useful not only to reduce arcing, but also to sustain the discharge at low pressure. The electrical breakdown field, intrinsic stress, O/Al ratio, refractive index, and surface roughness were investigated. Both a low intrinsic stress and an O/Al ratio around the stoichiometry were required to get the film having a high breakdown field. A low operating pressure of 0.1 Pa was found to provide the necessary stress and O/Al ratio targets. A 50-nm-thick alumina film having a maximum breakdown field of 7.4 MV/cm was obtained. © 2002 American Vacuum Society.
Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A: Vacuum, Surfaces, and Films (Volume:20 , Issue: 3 )
Date of Publication: May 2002