Improved Crystallinity of Annealed 0002 AlN Films on Sapphire Substrate

Materials (Basel). 2023 Mar 14;16(6):2319. doi: 10.3390/ma16062319.


AlN is a piezoelectric material used in telecommunication applications due to its high surface acoustic wave (SAW) velocity, stability, and mechanical strength. Its performance is linked to film quality, and one method to achieve high-quality films goes through the process of annealing. Consequently, c-orientated AlN film with a thickness of 1.1 μm deposited on sapphire was annealed at temperatures of 1100 °C and 1150 °C in a N2 controlled atmosphere. This was compared to annealing at 1100 °C, 1450 °C, and 1700 °C with N2 flow in an open atmosphere environment. Sample rotation studies revealed a significant impact on the ⍵-2θ X-ray rocking curve. A slight variation in the film crystallinity across the wafer was observed. After the annealing, it was found that the lattice parameter c was increased by up to 2%, whereas the screw dislocation density dropped from 3.31 × 1010 to 0.478 × 1010 cm-2, and the full width at half maximum (FWHM) of reflection (0002) was reduced from 1.16° to 0.41° at 1450 °C. It was shown that annealing in a N2-controlled atmosphere plays a major role in reducing the oxidation of the AlN film, which is important for acoustic wave devices where the electrodes are placed directly on the piezoelectric substrate. The face-to-face arrangement of the samples could further reduce this oxidation effect.

Keywords: AlN; annealing; crystallinity.