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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Phase tailoring of tantalum thin films deposited in deep oscillation magnetron sputtering mode


The effect of energetic ion bombardment on the properties of tantalum thin films was investigated. To achieve such energetic ion bombardment during the process the Ta thin films were deposited by deep oscillation magnetron sputtering (DOMS), an ionized physical vapor deposition technique related to high power impulse magnetron sputtering. The peak power was between 49 and 130 kW and the substrate was silicon at room temperature and ground potential. The directionality and the energy of the depositing species was controlled by changing the ionization fraction of the Ta species arriving at the substrate at different peak powers. In this work, the surface morphology (AFM), microstructure (SEM), structure (XRD) and hardness and Young's modulus (nanoindentation) of the films were characterized. The ion energy distributions (IEDs) were measured using an electrostatic quadrupole ion energy and mass spectrometer (HIDEN EQP 300). The IEDs showed that the DOMS process applies a very energetic (up to 120 eV) ion bombardment on the growing tantalum films. Therefore, with such conditions it was possible to deposit pure α-Ta (of 2 μm of thickness) without the use of additional equipment, i.e., without substrate bias or substrate heating. Conditions are therefore significantly different than in previous works, offering a much simpler and cheaper solution to up-scale for industrial operation.

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