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Microstructure and mechanical properties of stress-tailored piezoelectric AlN thin films for electro-acoustic devices

: Reusch, Markus; Cherneva, Sabina; Lu, Yuan; Zukauskaite, A.; Kirste, L.; Holc, K.; Datcheva, M.; Stoychev, D.; Lebedev, V.; Ambacher, O.


Applied surface science 407 (2017), S.307-314
ISSN: 0169-4332
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG
AM 105/24-1
Fraunhofer IAF ()
aluminium nitride; thin film; stress management; nanoindentation; Raman mapping

Nanoindentation measurements along with atomic force microscopy, X-ray diffraction, and residual stress analyses on the basis of Raman measurements have been performed to characterize stress-tailored AIN thin films grown using reactive RF magnetron sputtering. The intrinsic stress gradient caused by the growing in-plane grain size along film thickness was minimized by increasing the N-2 concentration in the Ar/N-2 gas mixture during the growth process. The increase of N-2 concentration did not degrade the device-relevant material properties such as crystallographic orientation, surface morphology. piezoelectric response, or indentation modulus. Due to comparable crystallographic film properties for all investigated samples it was concluded that mainly the AIN crystallites contribute to the mechanical film properties such as indentation modulus and hardness, while the film stress or grain boundaries had only a minor influence. Therefore, by tailoring the stress gradient in the AIN films, device performance, fabrication yield, and the design flexibility of electro-acoustic devices can be greatly improved.