Water is often employed as the oxygen source in metal oxide atomic layer deposition (ALD) processes. It has been reported that variations in the amount of water delivered during metal oxide ALD can impact the oxide film properties. Hence, one contribution to optimizing metal oxide ALD processes would be to identify methods to better control water dose. The development of rapid, quantitative techniques for in situ water vapor measurements during ALD processes would be beneficial to achieve this goal. In this report, the performance of an in situ tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy (TDLAS) scheme for performing rapid, quantitative water partial pressure measurements in a representative quarter-inch ALD delivery line is described. This implementation of TDLAS, which utilizes a near-infrared distributed-feedback diode laser and wavelength modulation spectroscopy, provides measurements of water partial pressure on a timescale comparable to or shorter than the timescale of the gas dynamics in typical ALD systems. Depending on the degree of signal averaging, this TDLAS system was capable of measuring the water partial pressure with a detection limit in the range of ∼0.80 to ∼0.08 Pa. The utility of this TDLAS scheme was demonstrated by using it to identify characteristics of a representative water delivery system that otherwise would have been difficult to predict. Those characteristics include (1) the magnitude and time dependence of the pressure transient that can occur during water injection, and (2) the dependence of the steady-state water partial pressure on the carrier gas flow rate and the setting of the water ampoule flow restriction.

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