Infoscience

Thesis

On the Powder Formation in the Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition Process for the Deposition of SiOx Barrier Coatings

Nowadays thin films play an important role in everyday life and in industries. Thin film technology has been developed primarily for the growing demand for development of smaller and smaller devices that require advanced materials and new processing techniques suitable for micro and nano technology. One of the methods of producing thin films is by means of plasma technology. This is a technique by which plasma, also known as 'the fourth state of matter', is used to generate ions, electrons and radicals which deposit at a surface where they will form a thin film. The source of these depositing species could be either gaseous, liquid or solid in origin. Most of the time a plasma is generated by means of an electrical discharge. Plasma technologies are used for various applications. One of these is Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition (PECVD). PECVD systems have widespread applications in the electronic sector, because of their exibility in depositing different films such as silicon oxide thin films (SiOx). These films, currently deposited by organosilicon compounds, such as hexamethyldisiloxane (HMDSO), have dielectric and good barrier properties. The aim of the work at CRPP consists in optimizing PECVD processes for the deposition of these films on polymers. In this study, the species in gaseous phase and the powder produced in oxygen-diluted HMDSO plasmas were experimentally characterized in a radiofrequency (RF) capacitively-coupled reactor at 13.56 MHz. The gaseous phase of these plasmas and the particle formation were studied by in-situ infrared absorption spectroscopy and optical emission spectroscopy. The study of the powder formation is important because the particle deposition imposes an upper limit on the deposition rate. Particle formation was firstly studied as a function of HMDSO/O2 ratio. Analysis of the time evolution of the infrared absorption spectra gives the development of the size, the number density, the structure and the particle composition. At high oxygen dilution the formation of large particles is observed. The analysis of HMDSO/O2 plasma at low O2 content suggests that at the beginning of the process very small particles are formed by polymerization; the same particles do not grow much and keep sizes around 50 nm. The admixture of inert or non-reactant gases, such as Ar or N2, into the plasma promotes polymerization of the monomer; a high value of one of these inert or non-reactant gases leads to small powder particle size, since only polymerization takes place in this case. Particle size around 50 nm is also found in this case. At the same time we see a decrease of the carbon content and a weak reduction of the stoichiometry in SiOx indicated by the shift of the SiOSi asymmetric stretching vibration. This reduction also influences the deposited layers, less oxidized and, thus, quite far from a stoichiometric character. Hexamethyldisilazane (HMDSN) and tetramethylsilane (TMS) are other reagents that have been identified as alternatives to HMDSO. The in-situ infrared absorption spectra show that HMDSO/O2 and HMDSN/O2 plasmas are quite similar, but in the second case a lower SiOSi stretching peak intensity, due to NH and SiN peaks, is seen. TMS/O2 and HMDSN/O2 plasma spectra show a low SiOSi bending and stretching peak intensity, due also to the oxygen atom absence in their chemical structure. Two separate chapters are respectively devoted to the silicon nitride thin films (SiNx) and plasma crystal formation. SiNx layers are deposited by three different organosilicon compounds, such as HMDSN, TMS and bis(dimethylamino)dimethylsilane (BDMADMS). No powder formation is visualized in this contest. The ex-situ infrared absorption spectra show the difficulty to produce stable SiNx films; they present a low SiN peak intensity and are quite hygroscopic. Furthermore, in HMDSO/O2 plasmas at high oxygen dilution and high pressure, later in time into the discharge, accretion leads to larger and larger particles which can finish up in particles forming a plasma crystal. The study of RF harmonics shows the presence of instabilities, clear indications of the passage from small particulate to plasma crystal structure.

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