Synthesis of ALD Iridium Thin Films on Silicon and Monel K-500 Steel Substrates

Tuesday, 3 October 2017
Prince George's Exhibit Hall D/E (Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center)
P. J. Oelslager (Old Dominion University) and H. Baumgart (Applied Research Center)
Iridium (Ir) thin films have been extensively investigated for a variety of applications. Ir is a potential optical material for Fresnel zone X-ray microchannel plates, and inductive grid filters. It is also a noble metal making it well suited to corrosion resistance in harsh environments

Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) is considered a special case of chemical vapor deposition (CVD) in that two different chemical precursor materials are alternately introduced into a vacuum chamber where a chemical reaction occurs on the surface of the substrate. This method of thin film growth is self-limiting and conformal and consequently results in precise layer thickness control, stoichiometry, composition, and uniformity across a large surface area. Advantages that are unique to ALD include the ability to grow conformal thin films across complex geometries, and the relatively low temperatures required to achieve film growth.

In this work, iridium metal films were synthesized on silicon (Si) and Monel K-500 alloy substrates by ALD using Iridium (III) acetylacetonate known as Ir(acac)3 or [CH3COCH=C(O-)CH3]3 Ir as precursor 1, and industrial grade O2 as oxidizing reactant. The solid Ir precursor was heated to 150 °C, and the substrate temperature was varied to establish an optimum growth window. The lowest temperature in which Ir growth was found is 200 °C, and the thin film growth rate increased as a function of temperature up to 250 °C. Higher temperatures have not yet been attempted due to equipment constraints. The Monel K-500 steel alloy flat discs were cut from commercially available Monel K-500 bars of ~1 inch diameter.

In this study we report on the successful synthesis of Ir films on Si and Monel K-500 substrates. Detailed characterization has been performed using X-ray diffraction (XRD) techniques, atomic force microscopy (AFM), and field emission scanning electron microscopy (FE-SEM) of samples which have been notched with focused ion beam (FIB) techniques for cross-sectional film thickness measurements as revealed in Figure 1. The polycrystalline ALD Iridium film exhibited good chemisorption and adhesion to native oxide covered Si substrates, with hydroxyl surface termination. However even with the absence of a SiO2 surface film, the ALD synthesis of Iridium metal films worked equally well on the Monel K-500 steel alloy flat disc substrates and yielded excellent surface coverage.