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Pulsed radio frequency plasma deposition of a-SiNx:H alloys: Film properties, growth mechanism, and applications

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4 Author(s)
Vernhes, R. ; Regroupement québécois sur les matériaux de pointe (RQMP) and Department of Engineering Physics, École Polytechnique de Montréal, P.O. Box 6079, Station Centre-Ville, Montréal, Québec, H3C 3A7, Canada ; Zabeida, O. ; Klemberg-Sapieha, J.E. ; Martinu, L.

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In this work, we propose a fabrication process of a-SiNx:H alloys by pulsing the radio frequency (rf) signal in a low pressure plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) system. The characteristics of the films can be controlled simply by adjusting the duty cycle of the pulsed rf power, while keeping the N2/SiH4 gas mixture constant. Spectroscopic ellipsometry analysis in the ultraviolet-visible-near infrared and far infrared ranges, atomic force microscopy, and elastic recoil detection reveal strong variations in the optical properties (1.88≤n≤2.75, 10-4≤k≤5×10-2 at 550 nm), optical gap (4.01 eV≤Eg≤1.95 eV), microstructural characteristics (1.3 nmsurface roughness≤8.3 nm), and chemical composition (0.47≤x≤1.35) of the coatings as a function of duty cycle. This behavior is interpreted in terms of radical concentration changes in the gas phase, as well as variation in the average ion bombardment energy at the film surface, leading to modifications of both chemical and physical mechanisms that sustain the film growth. Using the control of duty cycle, we fabricated two types of a-SiNx:H-based thin film devices, namely, (i) a model Fabry-Perot optical filter deposited on plastic substrate and (ii) a superlattice structure displaying a photoluminescence signal four times higher than the reference single layer. These two examples of applications point ou- t the main advantages of this pulsed rf PECVD process, in particular, low deposition temperature, reproducibility, versatility, and ease of use.

Published in:

Journal of Applied Physics  (Volume:100 ,  Issue: 6 )