Journal article

Microstructure and dielectric properties of piezoelectric magnetron sputtered w-ScxAl1-xN thin films

Piezoelectric wurtzite ScxAl1-xN (x = 0, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3) thin films were epitaxially grown by reactive magnetron co-sputtering from elemental Sc and Al targets. Al2O3(0001) wafers with TiN(111) seed and electrode layers were used as substrates. X-ray diffraction shows that an increase in the Sc content results in the degradation of the crystalline quality. Samples grown at 400 degrees C possess true dielectric behavior with quite low dielectric losses and the leakage current is negligible. For ScAlN samples grown at 800 degrees C, the crystal structure is poor and leakage current is high. Transmission electron microscopy with energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy mapping shows a mass separation into ScN-rich and AlN-rich domains for x >= 0.2 when substrate temperature is increased from 400 to 800 degrees C. The piezoelectric response of epitaxial ScxAl1-xN films measured by piezoresponse force microscopy and double beam interferometry shows up to 180% increase by the addition of Sc up to x = 0.2 independent of substrate temperature, in good agreement with previous theoretical predictions based on density-functional theory. (C) 2012 American Institute of Physics. []

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