Electrically Modified Quartz Crystal Microbalance to Study Surface Chemistry Using Plasma Electrons as Reducing Agents

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Kemi

Abstract: Metallic films are important in various applications, such as electric devices where it can act as contacts. In electrical devices, the substrate typically consists of silicon dioxide (SiO2) which is a temperature-sensitive substrate. Therefore, plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) are better suited than thermally activated chemical vapor deposition (CVD). Depositing metallic films with PECVD demands co-reactants that act as reducing agents. However, these are not well-studied and do not always have the power enough to perform the reduction reaction for metals. Recently it has been concluded that electrons can act as reducing agents in the deposition of first row transition metallic films in a PECVD process. By supplying a positive bias to the substrate, the electrons got attracted to the surface of the substrate, which facilitated metal growth. The study concluded that metal growth only occurred at conductive -and semiconductive substrates and that the substrate bias and plasma power affected the metal growth. The process is however not well understood, which causes a knowledge gap, signifying that studies of the surface chemistry are needed. Here a new modified analytical method to study the surface chemistry in the newly developed process mentioned above is presented. The analytical method consists of an electrically modified quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) with gold electrodes as a conductive substrate. This allows the electron current to run through the QCM during the measurement. By supplying a DC-voltage to the front electrode it gets readily biased (negative and positive) and by placing a capacitor in the circuit, it connects the AC-circuit (oscillator circuit) and the DC-circuit (DC-voltage bias circuit). At the same time, it blocks the DC-current from going back to the oscillator but allows the high-frequency signal to pass from the QCM. The results in this thesis concluded that the QCM can be electrically modified to allow an electron flux to the QCM while using it as a substrate when electrons are used as reducing agents. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of a QCM crystal revealed that a 2 µm film had been deposited while SEM coupled with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) showed that the film indeed contained iron. Further analysis was made by high-resolution X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (HR-XPS) to find the elemental composition of the film, which revealed that the thin film contained 41 at.% iron. In addition, this study investigated if the QCM could be used to study CVD processes where electrons were used as reducing agents. The results indeed revealed that it is possible to study the surface chemistry where electrons are used as reducing agents with the electrically modified QCM to gain knowledge concerning film deposition. Initial results of the QCM showed that film growth could be studied when varying the plasma power between 5 W to 15 W and the QCM bias between -40 V to +40 V. The method generated easily accessible data concerning the process where electrons are used as reducing agents, which gained insight to the method that never has been disclosed before. 

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