Several bottom electrode systems for ferroelectric thin film deposition onto reactive substrates or reactive metal films have been investigated with respect to chemical barrier properties and contact resistivity. Such electrode systems should not deteriorate by oxidation, and should prevent oxygen diffusion into the underlying base metal. First, the protective performance of Pt, Ru, RuO2/Ru, and Cr has been evaluated on reactive substances such as W, Zr, Mo, and TiN; On most materials, a reactive and passivating metal such as Cr offers protection up to a higher temperature than noble metals. This is explained by preferential oxidation. On Cr, a RuO2 electrode allowed oxidation resistance to more than 800 degrees C without any Cr diffusion: the RuO2 serves both as an electrode and as a barrier to Cr. In order to reduce the contact resistance due to the formation of a Cr2O3 film at the RuO2/Cr interface, a Ru interlayer was inserted, giving an RuO2/Ru/Cr. This combination allowed maintaining a low contact resistance up to 700 degrees C. (C) 1999 The Electrochemical Society. S0013-4651(98)12-012-8. All rights reserved.