AFM study on the surface morphologies of TiN films prepared by magnetron sputtering and Al2O3 films prepared by atomic layer deposition

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

7 Scopus Citations
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  • Li Du
  • Hei Wong
  • Shurong Dong
  • Wai-Shing Lau
  • V. Filip

Related Research Unit(s)


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-144
Journal / PublicationVacuum
Online published5 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


This paper reports the results of a comprehensive study conducted on the effect of surface morphology of titanium nitride (TiN) electrodes deposited by magnetron sputtering and the possibility of improving metal/insulator/metal (MIM) capacitor characteristics with Al2O3 dielectric obtained by atomic layer deposition (ALD). From the atomic force microscopy (AFM) study, we found that the bottom TiN layer is rougher for thicker films. Post metallization annealing can slightly reduce the roughness. In the case of the Al2O3 dielectric layer deposition, low-temperature ALD is preferred in order to obtain smaller surface roughness. Deposition of a dielectric layer at higher temperatures results in rougher surface because of poor chemisorption of precursors on the rough surface and the forming of crystalline phases. Electrical measurements show that the barrier at the top electrode is much larger than that at the bottom electrode due to the smaller roughness of the Al2O3 surface. Trade-off is required for depositions of both the bottom electrode and the dielectric layer.