Texture mechanisms and microstructure of biaxial thin films grown by oblique angle deposition
In order to understand the texture formation mechanism in thin films grown under oblique angle deposition (OAD), TiAlN films were deposited at room temperature (RT) under various incident angles. We show that both in-plane and out-of-plane crystallographic orientations respond strongly to the deposition angle. For a?=?0 degrees, the pole figures show a (111) and (200) mixed out-of-plane orientation with random in-plane alignment. In contrast, under OAD, inclined textures are observed with the (111) direction moving toward the incident flux direction and the (200) moving away, showing substantial in-plane alignment. This observation suggests that TiAlN crystals prefer to grow with the (200) direction perpendicular to the substrate while maintaining the minimization of the surface free energy by maximizing the (111) surface area toward the incident flux. The in-plane texture, which is randomly oriented at normal incidence, gives rise to two preferred orientations under oblique angles one along the direction of flux and other away from the deposition source. The biaxial texture results from a competition among texture mechanism related to surface mobilities of adatoms, geometrical and directional effects. The surface and cross-section of the films were observed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). OAD films develop a kind of smooth tiles of a roof structure, with no faceted crystallites. The columns of these films were tilted toward the direction of incident flux. The dependence of (111) texture tilt angle and column angle beta on the incidence flux angle a is evaluated using four well-known models. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) study reveals a voided, intercolumnar structure with oblique growth toward the flux direction. The selected area diffraction pattern (SAED) pattern supports the pole figure observations. Measurements of the nanoindentation test were performed in order to discuss the change of mechanical properties as a function of incident flux angle.