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Influence of backscattered neutrals on the grain size of magnetron-sputtered TaN thin films

Martin Rudolph 1 Daniel Lundin 1 Eddy Foy 2, 3 Mathieu Debongnie 1 Marie-Christine Hugon 1 Tiberiu Minea 1 
2 LAPA - UMR 3685 - Laboratoire Archéomatériaux et Prévision de l'Altération
NIMBE UMR 3685 - Nanosciences et Innovation pour les Matériaux, la Biomédecine et l'Energie (ex SIS2M)
3 IRAMAT - LMC - IRAMAT - Laboratoire Métallurgies et Cultures
IRAMAT - Institut de Recherches sur les Archéomatériaux
Abstract : A side effect of magnetron sputtering is the production of neutral working gas atoms backscattered from the cathode. Their influence on the morphology of sputter-deposited thin films, though, is usually neglected, which may not always be justified. In particular, for high-power impulse magnetron sputtering with its high negative cathode potential during the discharge pulse in combination with heavy metal targets, this effect can be important. In this work, we find experimentally that the grain size of magnetron-sputtered δ-TaN films is considerably reduced at high negative cathode potential and without the use of a substrate bias. For these deposition conditions, computer calculations show a high rate of backscattered neutrals with energies >100 eV, which is only a factor of 10 to 20 lower than the total deposition rate of sputtered species. Such a significant fraction of energetic backscattered neutrals can readily impede grain growth by the incorporation of defects followed by renucleation. Thermalization of the energetic neutrals by the process gas is shown to be insufficient for typical magnetron operating pressures and cathode-substrate distances. The methodology presented here can be used to explain similar results of shrinking grains with increased negative cathode potential for other material systems.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - 1:42:32 PM
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Martin Rudolph, Daniel Lundin, Eddy Foy, Mathieu Debongnie, Marie-Christine Hugon, et al.. Influence of backscattered neutrals on the grain size of magnetron-sputtered TaN thin films. Thin Solid Films, Elsevier, 2018, 658, pp.46-53. ⟨10.1016/j.tsf.2018.05.027⟩. ⟨cea-01792357⟩



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