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Magnetron sputtering of piezoelectric AlN and AlScN thin films and their use in energy harvesting applications

: Barth, Stephan; Bartzsch, Hagen; Glöß, Daniel; Frach, Peter; Modes, Thomas; Zywitzki, Olaf; Suchaneck, Gunnar; Gerlach, Gerald


Microsystem Technologies 22 (2016), No.7, pp.1613-1617
ISSN: 0946-7076
Journal Article
Fraunhofer FEP ()
magnetron sputtering; thin film; piezoelectric; ferroelectric

This paper reports on the deposition of AlN and AlXSc1−XN films by pulse magnetron sputtering. The first part will focus on the AlXSc1−XN deposition process in comparison to the already established AlN process. The effect of doping AlN with Sc regarding piezoelectric and mechanical properties is presented. The films show the expected increase of piezoelectric properties as well as the softening of the material with higher Sc concentrations. Above a threshold concentration of around 40 % Sc in the AlXSc1−XN films, there exists a separation into two phases, an Al-rich and a Sc-rich wurtzite phase, which is shown by XRD. At Sc concentrations higher than 50 %, the films are not piezoelectric, as the films are composed primarily of the cubic ScN phase. The second main part of this paper evaluates the films for application in energy harvesting. Especially the Sc doping allows a significant increase in the energy generated in our test setup. Directly measuring the AC voltage at resonance depending on load resistance with base excitation of ±2.5 µm, 350 µW power have been generated under optimum conditions compared to 70 µW for pure AlN. For a more application oriented measuring setup, a standard and a SSHI-based (“Synchronised Switch Harvesting on Inductor”) AC/DC converter circuit have been tested. The SSHI interface showed a significant improvement to 180 % compared to the standard interface.