The mechanism for growth initiation on the nongrowth surface during area-selective atomic layer deposition (ALD) processes is not well understood. In this study, we examine the ALD of ZrO2 on a SiO2 surface functionalized with alkylated-aminosilane inhibitors delivered from the vapor phase. ZrO2 films were deposited by ALD using tetrakis(ethylmethylamino)zirconium(IV) with H2O as the coreactant. In situ surface infrared spectroscopy shows that aminosilane inhibitors react with almost all the surface —SiOH groups on the SiO2 surface by forming Si—O—Si bonds. In situ four-wavelength ellipsometry shows that no ZrO2 growth occurs on the functionalized SiO2 during the first few ALD cycles, but growth eventually initiates after a few ALD cycles. We speculate that after repeated exposure of the functionalized SiO2 surface to Zr precursors, in the absence of surface —SiOH groups, growth initiates due to either reaction of the precursors with strained Si—O—Si bonds or through a strongly physisorbed state. These reaction pathways are usually not relevant in ALD reactions on the unprotected —SiOH-terminated SiO2 surface due to a higher activation energy barrier, but become relevant on the passivated surface as a result of repeated precursor exposure. Thus, this study highlights the importance of steric blocking of these higher activation energy barrier reaction pathways.
Mechanism for growth initiation on aminosilane-functionalized SiO2 during area-selective atomic layer deposition of ZrO2
Wanxing Xu, Paul C. Lemaire, Kashish Sharma, Ryan J. Gasvoda, Dennis M. Hausmann, Sumit Agarwal; Mechanism for growth initiation on aminosilane-functionalized SiO2 during area-selective atomic layer deposition of ZrO2. J. Vac. Sci. Technol. A 1 May 2021; 39 (3): 032402. https://doi.org/10.1116/6.0000699
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