Plasma-enhanced atomic layer deposition was utilized to grow aluminum nitride (AlN) films on Si from trimethylaluminum and N2:H2 plasma at 200 °C. Thermal treatments were then applied on the films which caused changes in their chemical composition and nanostructure. These changes were observed to manifest in the refractive indices and densities of the films. The AlN films were identified to contain light element impurities, namely, H, C, and excess N due to nonideal precursor reactions. Oxygen contamination was also identified in the films. Many of the embedded impurities became volatile in the elevated annealing temperatures. Most notably, high amounts of H were observed to desorb from the AlN films. Furthermore, dinitrogen triple bonds were identified with infrared spectroscopy in the films. The triple bonds broke after annealing at 1000 °C for 1 h which likely caused enhanced hydrolysis of the films. The nanostructure of the films was identified to be amorphous in the as-deposited state and to become nanocrystalline after 1 h of annealing at 1000 °C.

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