Surface recombination of plasma radicals is generally considered to limit film conformality during plasma-assisted atomic layer deposition (ALD). Here, we experimentally studied film penetration into high-aspect-ratio structures and demonstrated that it can give direct information on the recombination probability r of plasma radicals on the growth surface. This is shown for recombination of oxygen (O) atoms on SiO2, TiO2, Al2O3, and HfO2 where a strong material dependence has been observed. Using extended plasma exposures, films of SiO2 and TiO2 penetrated extremely deep up to an aspect ratio (AR) of ∼900, and similar surface recombination probabilities of r = (6 ± 2) × 10–5 and (7 ± 4) × 10–5 were determined for these processes. Growth of Al2O3 and HfO2 was conformal up to depths corresponding to ARs of ∼80 and ∼40, with r estimated at (1–10) × 10–3 and (0.1–10) × 10–2, respectively. Such quantitative insight into surface recombination, as provided by our method, is essential for modeling radical-surface interaction and understanding for which materials and conditions conformal film growth is feasible by plasma-assisted ALD.
Arts, K., Utriainen, M., Puurunen, R. L., Kessels, E., & Knoops, H. (2019). Film conformality and extracted recombination probabilities of O atoms during plasma-assisted atomic layer deposition of SiO2, TiO2, Al2O3, and HfO2. Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 123(44), 27030-27035. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpcc.9b08176