Influence of substrate biasing on the growth of c-axis oriented AlN thin films by RF reactive sputtering in pure nitrogen



We report on the investigation of the influence of deposition conditions on structural, morphological and optical properties of AlN thin films deposited on sapphire (Al2O3) substrates by radio-frequency (RF) reactive sputtering. The deposition parameters studied are RF power, substrate temperature and substrate bias, while using pure nitrogen as reactive gas. The effect of such deposition parameters on AlN film properties are analyzed by different characterization methods as high resolution X-ray diffraction (HRXRD), field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) and linear optical transmission. AlN thin films with a full-width at half-maximum (FWHM) of the rocking curve obtained for the (0002) diffraction peak of 1.2º are achieved under optimized conditions. The time resolved evolution of the self and externally-induced biasing of the substrate during deposition process is monitored and analyzed in terms of the rate of atomic species incorporation into the layer. The bias-induced change of the atomic incorporation leads to an enhancement in the structural quality of the layer and an increase of the deposition rate. (© 2012 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)