>Influence of substrate crystallography on the room temperature synthesis of AlN thin films by reactive sputtering
A pulsed DC reactive ion beam sputtering system has been used to synthesize aluminium nitride (AlN) thin films at room temperature by reactive sputtering. After systematic study of the processing variables, high-quality polycrystalline films with preferred c-axis orientation have been grown successfully on silicon and Au/Si substrates with an Al target under a N2/(N2 + Ar) gas flow ratio of 55%, 2 mTorr processing pressure and keeping the temperature of the substrate holder at room temperature. The crystalline quality of the AlN layer as well as the influence of the substrate crystallography on the AlN orientation has been characterized by high-resolution X-ray diffraction (HR-XRD). Best ω-FWHM (Full Width at Half Maximum) values of the (0 0 0 2) reflection rocking curve in the 1 μm thick AlN layers are 1.3°. Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) measurements have been used to study the surface morphology of the AlN layer and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) measurements to investigate the AlN/substrate interaction. AlN grew off-axis from the Si substrate but on-axis to the surface normal. When the AlN thin film is deposited on top of an Au layer, it grows along the [0 0 0 1] direction but showing a two-domain structure with two in-plane orientations rotated 30° between them.