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The group "Experimental Physics II - Reactive Plasmas" at the faculty of physics and astronomy at Ruhr University Bochum.

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Embedded argon as a tool for sampling local structure in thin plasma deposited aluminum oxide films

Al2O3 thin films, either amorphous or of varying degrees of crystallinity, were deposited by two-frequency radio-frequency magnetron sputtering. Film crystallinity was investigated by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), and X-ray diffraction (XRD). X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) was employed to determine the amount of Ar naturally trapped within the films during the deposition process. A clear correlation was found between the existence of crystalline phases, as determined by XRD, and a shift towards lower binding energy positions of the Ar2p core levels of embedded gas. The shift is due to differences in the local Al2O3 matrix (amorphous or crystalline) of the embedded gas, thus providing an XPS fingerprint that can be used to qualitatively determine the presence or absence of crystalline phases in very thin films.

Release Date
Permanent Identifier (URI)
Is supplementing
Plasma Source Name
Plasma Source Application
Plasma Source Specification
Plasma Source Properties
Multi frequency CCP with 71MHz and 13.56 MHz at the driving electrode. Magnetron configuration within driving electrode including an Al target.
English (United Kingdom)
Plasma Source Procedure
Plasma ignition with both frequencies at driving electrode, substrate electrode biased with 1.01MHz (rectangular). Si substrates were heated up to 600°C for deposition of Al2O3. The plasma was ignited with 9 sccm continuous Ar flow and an oxygen flow, which was set with a feedback loop due to possible target poisoning. Plasma deposition was done until a maximum layer thickness of 1µm was reached.
Plasma Medium Name
Plasma Medium Properties
The mean oxygen partial pressure was 8.6 x 10^(-3) Pa (total working pressure was 0.13 Pa). The gas flow rate for Ar: 9sccm, oxygen flow was set with a feedback loop. Here the oxygen concentration within the plasma was detected with an optical filter observing the Al emission line at 396nm. The intensity of this emission line was measured by a photomultiplier. An oxygen flow was set with the help a LabView program calculating the optimum flow rate into the chamber using a feedback loop.
Plasma Medium Procedure
Gas flow was set directly before ignition of the plasma.
Plasma Target Name
Contact Name
Marina Prenzel
Plasma Target Properties
The Si wafer was cut into 2.5cm x 2.5cm large pieces and mounted to the sample holder.
Plasma Target Procedure
Si wafer was mounted to the sample holder, inserted to the chamber and heated up to the desired temperature. The temperature was detected with an ellipsometer.
Contact Email
Plasma Diagnostic Properties
Photomultiplier detecting the intensity of the Al I emission line at 396nm
Public Access Level
Funding Agency

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