Defect prevention in silica thin films synthesized using AP-PECVD for flexible electronic encapsulation

F.M. Elam, S.A. Starostin, A.S. Meshkova, B.C.A.M. Van Der Velden-Schuermans, M.C.M. Van De Sanden, H.W. De Vries

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Industrially and commercially relevant roll-to-roll atmospheric pressure-plasma enhanced chemical vapour deposition was used to synthesize smooth, 80 nm silica-like bilayer thin films comprising a dense 'barrier layer' and comparatively porous 'buffer layer' onto a flexible polyethylene 2,6 naphthalate substrate. For both layers, tetraethyl orthosilicate was used as the precursor gas, together with a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen and argon. The bilayer films demonstrated exceptionally low effective water vapour transmission rates in the region of 6.1 × 10-4 g m-2 d-1 (at 40 C, 90% relative humidity), thus capable of protecting flexible photovoltaics and thin film transistors from degradation caused by oxygen and water. The presence of the buffer layer within the bilayer architecture was mandatory in order to achieve the excellent encapsulation performance. Atomic force microscopy in addition to solvent permeation measurements, confirmed that the buffer layer prevented the formation of performance-limiting defects in the bilayer thin films, which likely occur as a result of excessive plasma-surface interactions during the deposition process. It emerged that the primary function of the buffer layer was therefore to act as a protective coating for the flexible polymer substrate material.

Original languageEnglish
Article number25LT01
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2017


  • bilayer
  • defects
  • encapsulation films
  • plasma-surface interactions
  • silica thin films


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