Study Of Pulsed Laser Ablated Barium Strontium Titanate Thin Flims For Dynamic Random Access Memory Applications
The present study describes the growth and characterization of pulsed laser ablated Bao.sSro.sTiOs (BST) thin films. Emphasis has been laid on the study of a plausible correlation between structure and property in order to optimize the processing parameters suitably for required application. An attempt has been made to understand the basic properties such as, origin of dielectric response, charge transfer under low and high-applied electric fields across the BST capacitor and finally the dielectric breakdown process. Chapter 1 gives a brief introduction on the application of ferroelectric thin films in microelectronic industry and its growth techniques. It also addresses the present issues involved in the introduction of BST as a capacitor material for high-density dynamic random access memories. Chapter 2 outlines the motivation for the present study and briefly outlines the research work involved. Chapter 3 describes the experimental procedure involved in the growth and characterization of BST thin films using pulsed laser ablation technique. Details include the setup design for PLD growth, material synthesis for the ceramic targets, deposition conditions used for thin film growth and basic characterizations methods used for study of the grown films. Chapter 4 describes the effect of systematic variation of deposition parameters on the physical and electrical properties of the grown BST films. The variation in processing conditions has been found to directly affect the film crystallinity, structure and morphology. The change observed in these physical properties may also be correlated to the observed electrical properties. This chapter summarizes the optimal deposition conditions required for growing BST thin films using a pulsed laser ablation technique. Microstructure of BST films has been categorized into two types: (a) Type I structure, with multi-grains through the film thickness, for amorphous as-grown films after high temperature annealing (exsitu crystallized), and (b) columnar structure (Type II) films, which were as-grown well-crystallized films, deposited at high temperatures. The ac electrical properties have been reviewed in detail in Chapter 5. Type I films showed a relatively lower value of dielectric constant (e ~ 426) than Type II films with dielectric constant around 567. The dissipation factors were around 0.02 and 0.01 for Type I and Type II films respectively. The dispersion in the frequency domain characteristics has been quantitatively explained using Jonscher's theory. Complex impedance spectroscopy employed showed significant grain boundary response in the case of multi-grained Type I films while negligible contribution from grain boundaries has been obtained in the case of columnar grained Type II BST films. The average relaxation time r obtained from the complex impedance plane plots show almost three orders higher values for Type I films. The obtained results suggest that in multi-grained samples, grain boundary play a major role in electrical properties. This has been explained in accordance to a model proposed on the basis of depleted grains in the case of Type I films where the grain sizes are smaller than the grain boundary depletion width. Chapter 6 describes the dc leakage properties of the grown BST thin films and the influence of microstructure on the leakage properties. It was evident from the analysis of the graph of leakage current against measurement temperature, that, the observed leakage behavior in BST films, can not be attributed to a single charge transport mechanism. For Type I films, the Arrhenius plot of the leakage current density with 1000/T exhibits different regions with activation energy values in the range of 0.5 and 2.73 for low fields (2.5kV/cm). The activation energy changes over to 1.28 eV at high fields (170 kV/cm). The obtained values agree well with that obtained from the ac measurements, thus implying a similarity in the origin of the transport process. The activation energy value in the range of 0.5 eV is attributed to the electrode/film Schottky barrier, while the value in the range of 2.73 eV is due to deep trap levels originating from Ti+3 centers. The value in the range of 1.28 eV has been attributed to oxygen vacancy motion. Similar results have been obtained from the Arrhenius plot of the leakage current for Type II films. In this case, only two different activation energy values can be identified in the measured temperature and applied electric field range. At low fields the activation energy value was around 0.38 eV while at high fields the value was around 1.06 eV. These values have been identified to be originating from the electrode/film Schottky barrier and oxygen vacancy motion respectively. Thus a complete picture of the charge transport process in the case of BST thin film may be summarized as comprising of both electronic motion as well as contribution from oxygen vacancy motion. The effect of electrical stress on the capacitance-voltage (C-V) and the leakage current has been analyzed in Chapter 7. From the change in the zero bias capacitance after repeated electron injection through the films the values of the electronic capture cross-section and the total trap density for Type I and II films have been estimated. The results showed higher values for Type I film in comparison to Type II films. The difference has been attributed to the presence of grain boundaries and a different interface in the case of Type I films when compared to Type II films where the absence of grain boundaries is reflected in the columnar microstructure. A study of the time-dependent-dielectric-breakdown (TDDB) characteristics under high fields for Type I and Type II films showed higher endurance for Type I film. On the other hand space-charge-transient characteristics have been observed in the case of Type II films at elevated temperature of measurement. Mobility and activation energy values extracted from the transient characteristics are found to be in the range of 1 x 10~12 cm2 /V-sec and 0.73 eV respectively, suggesting a very slow charge transport process, which has been attributed to the motion of oxygen vacancies. An overall effect of electrical stress suggested that oxygen vacancy motion can be related to the observed resistance degradation and TDDB, which has been further enhanced by the combination of high temperature and high electric fields. Chapter 8 deals with the effect of intentional doping in the BST films. The doping includes Al at the Ti-site, Nb in the Ti-site and La at the Ba/Sr-site. The effect of doping was observed both on the structure and electrical properties of the BST films. Acceptor doping of 0.1 atomic 7c Al was found to decrease the dielectric constant as well as the leakage current. For higher concentration of acceptor-dopant, the leakage current was found to increase while showing space-charge-transient in the TDDB characteristics, again suggesting the effect of increased concentration of oxygen vacancies. Donor doping using 2 atomic % La and Xb significantly improved the leakage as well as the TDDB characteristics by reducing the concentration of oxygen vacancies. A further procedure using graded donor doping in the BST films exhibits even better leakage and TDDB properties. An unconventional, graded doping of donor cations has been carried out to observe the impact on leakage behavior, in particular. The leakage current measured for a graded La-doped BST film show almost six orders of lower leakage current in comparison to undoped BST films, while endurance towards breakdown has been observed to increase many-fold. Chapter 9 highlights the main findings of the work reported in this thesis and lists suggestions for future work, to explore new vistas ahead.