Investigations On The Influence Of Process Parameters On The Deposition Of Samarium Cobalt (SmCo) Permanent Magnetic Thin Films For Microsystems Applications
The research in permanent magnet thin films focuses on the search of new materials and methods to increase the prevalent data storage limit. In the recent past the work towards the application of these films to micro systems have also gained momentum. Materials like samarium cobalt with better magnetic properties and temperature stability are considered to be suitable in this regard. The essential requirement in miniaturization of these films is to deposit them on silicon substrates that can alleviate the micro fabrication process. In this work, an effort has been made to deposit SmCo films with better magnetic properties on silicon substrates. In the deposition of SmCo, the composition of the deposited films and the structural evolution are found to play an important role in determining the magnetic properties. Proper control over these parameters is essential in controlling the magnetic properties of the deposited films. SmCo being a two component material the composition of the films is dependent on the nature of the source and the transport of the material species from source to substrate. On the other hand, structural evolution is dependent on the energetical considerations between the SmCo lattice and substrate lattice. This most often is dominated by the lattice match between the condensing lattice and the substrate lattice. As such Si does not provide good lattice match to SmCo lattice. Hence suitable underlayers are essential in the deposition of these films. Materials like W, Cu, Mo and Cr were used as underlayers. Out of all these Cr is found to provide good lattice match and adhesion to SmCo lattice. Sputtering being the common deposition tool, SmCo could be sputtered either from the elemental targets of Sm and Co or from the compound target of SmCo5. Sputtering of elemental targets of Sm and Co provides the flexibility of varying the composition whereas sputtering from the SmCo alloy target provides to flexibility of controlling the structural evolution by different process parameters. In this work two different techniques namely Facing Target Sputtering (FTS) and Ion Beam Sputter Deposition (IBSD) were followed in depositing SmCo films. In FTS technique, SmCo films were directly deposited on silicon substrates by simultaneous sputtering of samarium and cobalt targets facing each other. This sputtering geometry enabled to achieve films with a wide composition range of 55 – 95 at. % of cobalt in single deposition. The resulting composition variation and material property variation were investigated in terms of process parameters like pressure, temperature, SubstrateTarget Distance (STD) and InterTarget Distance (ITD). The composition distribution of the films was found to be dependent on the thermalisation distances and the mean free path available during the transport. To explain the process and the composition variation, a simulation model based on Monte Carlo method has been employed. The simulated composition variation trends were in good agreement with that of the experimental observations. IBSD, known for its controlled deposition, was employed to deposit both Cr (as an underlayer) and SmCo films. Cr with close epitaxial match with SmCo induces structural evolution in deposited films. The initial growth conditions were found to play a dominant role in the structural evolution of these Cr films. Hence, initial growth conditions were modified by means of oblique incidence and preferential orientation of (200) plane was obtained. With three different angles of incidence, three different surface orientations of Cr films were achieved. These films were then used as structural templates in the deposition of SmCo films. The influence of parameters like composition, impurities, film thickness, beam energy, ion flux, annealing, angles of incidence and underlayer properties on the structural and magnetic properties of SmCo was studied. The structural evolution of SmCo has been found to depend on the structural orientation of Cr underlayers. This followed the structural relation of SmCo(100)||Cr(110)||Si(100) and SmCo(110)||Cr(100)||Si(100). A mixed surface plane orientation was observed in the case of mixed orientation Cr template. The magnetic coercivities were found to increase from 50 Oe to 5000 Oe with the change in the structure of the deposited films.
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