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Probing the Nucleation of \hbox {Al}_{2}\hbox {O}_{3} in Atomic Layer Deposition on Aluminum for Ultrathin Tunneling Barriers in Josephson Junctions

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8 Author(s)
Elliot, A.J. ; Dept. of Phys. & Astron., Univ. of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA ; Malek, G. ; Wille, L. ; Lu, R.
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Ultrathin dielectric tunneling barriers are critical to Josephson junction (JJ) based superconducting quantum bits (qubits). However, the prevailing technique of thermally oxidizing aluminum via oxygen diffusion produces problematic defects, such as oxygen vacancies, which are believed to be a primary source of the two-level fluctuators and contribute to the decoherence of the qubits. Development of alternative approaches for improved tunneling barriers becomes urgent and imperative. Atomic layer deposition (ALD) of aluminum oxide is a promising alternative to resolve the issue of oxygen vacancies in the tunneling barrier, and its self-limiting growth mechanism provides atomic-scale precision in tunneling barrier thickness control. A critical issue in ALD of on metals is the lack of hydroxyl groups on metal surface, which prevents nucleation of the trimethylaluminum. In this work, we explore modifications of the aluminum surface with water pulse exposures followed by trimethylaluminum pulse exposures to assess the feasibility of ALD as a viable technique for JJ qubits. ALD films from 40 to 100 were grown on 1.4 to 500 of Al, and were characterized with ellipsometry and atomic force microscopy. A growth rate of 1.2 was measured, and an interfacial layer was observed. Because the interfacial layer thickness depends on the availability of Al and saturated at 2 nm, choosing ultrathin Al wetting layers may lead to ultrathin ALD tunneling barriers.

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Applied Superconductivity, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:23 ,  Issue: 3 )