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Electrical and optical properties of Ta-Si-N thin films deposited by reactive magnetron sputtering

The electrical and optical properties of TaxSiyNz thin films deposited by reactive magnetron sputtering from individual Ta and Si targets were studied in order to investigate the effects of nitrogen and silicon contents on both properties and their correlation to the film microstructure. Three sets of fcc-TaxSiyNz thin films were prepared: sub-stoichiometric TaxSiyN0.44, nearly stoichiometric TaxSiyN0.5, and over-stoichiometric TaxSiyN0.56. The optical properties were investigated by near-normal-incidence reflectivity and ellipsometric measurements in the optical energy range from 0.375 eV to 6.8 eV, while the d.c. electrical resistivity was measured in the van der Pauw configuration from 20 K to 300 K. The optical and electrical measurements were interpreted using the standard Drude-Lorentz model and the so-called grain boundary scattering model, respectively. The electronic properties were closely correlated with the compositional and structural modifications of the TaxSiyNz films due to variations in the stoichiometry of the fcc-TaNz system and the addition of Si atoms. According to the nitrogen and silicon contents, fcc-TaxSiyNz films can exhibit room temperature resistivity values ranging from 10(2) mu Omega cm to about 6 x 10(4) mu Omega cm. The interpretation of the experimental temperature-dependent resistivity data within the Grain Boundary Scattering model, combined with the results from optical investigations, showed that the mean electron transmission probability G and the free carriers concentration, N, are the main parameters that control the transport properties of these films. The results indicated that the correlation between electrical and optical measurements with the chemical composition and the nanostructure of the TaxSiyNz thin films provides a pertinent and consistent description of the evolution of the Ta-Si-N system from a solid solution to a nanocomposite material due to the addition of Si atoms. (C) 2012 American Institute of Physics. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4766904]

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