Interface Investigations on Titanium Nitride Bilayer Systems

Nanocomposite coatings composed of two phases with atomically sharp phase boundaries, show interesting mechanical properties. These properties are often originating from their high interface to volume ratio. Composites of nanocrystalline titanium nitride (TiN) grains surrounded by a one to two monolayer thick interlayer of silicon nitride (Si3N4) show an enhanced nanohardness. The central theme of this thesis is concernedwith the interfacial properties of two-dimensional bilayer systems, which are used as model systems to describe the interfaces occurring in nanocomposite coatings. The systems under investigation are TiN interfaces in contact with silicon (Si), silicon nitride (Si3N4) and aluminum nitride (AlN). The primary tool used to analyze the interfaces of bilayer systems is X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) with emphasis put on the shake-up feature of the Ti 2p photoelectron line. Shake-ups in TiN are observed as an additional peak on the lower binding energy side of the energy lines of the Ti 2p orbitals. Shake-ups are strongly influenced by valence electrons and electron density distributions. This makes them a powerful tool to probe the chemical and electronic structure of TiN interfaces. The aim of this study is to utilize the shake-up energy and its intensity to gain insight into interfacial structures and correlate their changes to interfacial polarization and macroscopic mechanical properties. Single crystalline (sc-) and oxygen-free TiN as well as oxygen-free bilayer systems were deposited by unbalanced magnetron sputtering and analyzed by Angle Resolved (AR-)XPS. Bilayer samples were deposited and their quality was controlled using X-ray diffraction (crystallinity), Rutherford back scattering (elemental composition), and atomic force microscopy (roughness). All XPS samples were fabricated, transfered and analyzed whilst maintaining ultra high vacuum. A precise and self-consistent XPS data processing method was developed to evaluate Ti 2p spectra. This method accounts for the correct photoelectron line shape, background subtraction and photoelectron peak area intensity. Binding energy, shake-up energy and intensity ratios of shake-ups taken frompristine TiN surfaces are precisely determined, and the influence of oxygen on the information content in peak positions and intensities was investigated. The shake-up energy and intensity of bulk sc-TiN and its origin of the shake-up are discussed. An analytical description for the XPS signal ratio of bilayer systems is derived to separate the interfacial signals from the bulk information. The results obtained by this analytical description are strongly influenced by the interface thickness that has been found to be proportional to the overlayer thickness. The revealed interface properties show a correlation between the shake-up intensity and the interface morphology, oxygen content, overlayer material and overlayer thickness. AR-XPS and X-ray Photoelectron Diffraction (XPD) results were used to interpret the crystalline structure of the different TiN/AlN and TiN/Si3N4 bilayer systems. AlN shows XPD patterns indicating a crystalline growth of AlN on sc-TiN. The electrically insulating AlN overlayer creates a charge accumulation at the TiN interface, which results in an enhanced shake-up intensity. XPD patterns of Si3N4 systems revealed a crystalline growth of Si3N4 in the first 0.6nm. The intensity of the diffraction patterns reduces with increasing Si3N4 overlayer thickness due to a change in the growth behavior from crystalline to amorphous structures. Si3N4 films show, in comparison to AlN, reduced interface charging and hence a lower shakeup intensity. The crystalline growth of Si3N4 in the initial stages is hindered in systems where a bias voltage is applied to the substrate during the deposition process. In contrast to the unbiased systems, which have crystalline interfacial structures, the biased systems no longer show XPD patterns due to a loss of crystallinity. Additionally the shake-up intensity of biased systems is thickness-independent, which is in contrast to unbiased systems. The difference in the shake-up intensity of biased and unbiased Si3N4 is explained by a different band gap of the Si3N4 structure in the first two monolayers. This thesis shows that the increase in the shake-up intensity is correlated to intrinsic and extrinsic interface charging. The obtained results, in combination with theoretical structure models from literature, show that in one to two monolayer thick interlayers a build-up of interface polarization is unlikely. The observed nanohardness enhancement in TiN/Si3N4 systems is explained with already known hardness effects.

Forró, László
Patscheider, Jörg
Lausanne, EPFL
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis5509-7

 Record created 2012-09-27, last modified 2018-01-28

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