Deposition and Phase Transformations of Ternary Al-Cr-O Thin Films

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: This thesis concerns the ternary Al-Cr-O system. (Al1-xCrx)2O3 solid solution thin films with 0.6<x<0.7 were deposited on Si(001) substrates at temperatures of 400-500 °C by reactive radio frequency magnetron sputtering from metallic targets of Al and Cr in a flow controlled Ar / O2 gas mixture. As-deposited and annealed (Al1-xCrx)2O3 thin films were analyzed by x-ray diffraction, elastic recoil detection analysis, scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and nanoindentation. (Al1-xCrx)2O3 showed to have face centered cubic structure with lattice parameter of 4.04 Å, which is in contrast to the typical corundum structure reported for these films. The as-deposited films exhibited hardness of ~ 26 GPa and elastic modulus of 220-235 GPa. Phase transformation from cubic to corundum (Al0.32Cr0.68)2O3 starts at 925 °C. Annealing at 1000 °C resulted in complete phase transformation, while no precipitates of alumina and chromia were observed. Studies on kinetics of phase transformation showed a two-step thermally activated process; phase transformation and grain growth with the apparent activation energies 213±162 and 945±27 kJ/mol, respectively.