Optimization of the Solution and Processing Parameters for SrTiO3 Thin Films for Electronic Devices

Date of Completion

January 2011


Engineering, Materials Science




Metallo-organic solution deposition (MOSD) and spin-coating were used to deposit strontium titanate (SrTiO3 or STO) thin films on Si and metalized Si substrates. In addition, a thermodynamic model was constructed based on the Landau polynomial for the free energy. Using this model, the thin film strain due to the difference in thermal expansion coefficients (TECs) of the film and substrate was calculated, as well as its effect on the permittivity and tunability. It was found that a large tensile thermal strain develops in the STO/Si material system, and this strain significantly lowers the dielectric response as compared to bulk STO. ^ A multi-dimensional parameter optimization process was used to systematically vary the solution, deposition, and processing parameters of the STO thin films. These parameters include the precursor solution heating, solution molarity/concentration, solution aging, spin-coating recipe, pyrolysis procedure/temperature, annealing temperature, and annealing oxygen environment. X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), spectroscopic ellipsometry (SE), and dielectric/insulating measurements were used to characterize the STO thin film devices.^ By optimizing various deposition parameters, such as the solution molarity and the pyrolysis temperature, the tensile stress induced from the difference in TECs of the film and substrate, which was predicted by the thermodynamic theory, can be reduced or completely eliminated. This stress relaxation is achieved through the tailoring of compressive "growth stresses" by optimizing the precursor solution molarity as well as the post-deposition heat treatment processing.^ By utilizing the multi-dimensional parameter optimization process, high-quality, electronic-grade thin film STO can be deposited via the affordable, simple, and industry-standard MOSD technique. ^