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Modelling the growth of ZnO thin films by PVD methods and the effects of post-annealing

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journal contribution
posted on 08.04.2013, 10:39 by Sabrina Blackwell, Roger SmithRoger Smith, Steven KennySteven Kenny, Michael WallsMichael Walls, Carlos F. Sanz-Navarro
Results are presented for modelling of the evaporation and magnetron sputter deposition of Zn onto an O-terminated ZnO () wurtzite surface. Growth was simulated through a combination of molecular dynamics (MD) and an on-the-fly kinetic Monte Carlo (otf-KMC) method, which finds diffusion pathways and barriers without prior knowledge of transitions. We examine the effects of varying experimental parameters, such as substrate bias, distribution of the deposition species and annealing temperature. It was found when comparing evaporation and sputtering growth that the latter process results in a denser and more crystalline structure, due to the higher deposition energy of the arriving species. The evaporation growth also exhibits more stacking faults than the sputtered growth. Post-annealing at 770 K did not allow complete recrystallization, resulting in films which still had stacking faults where monolayers formed in the zinc blende phase, whereas annealing at 920 K enabled the complete recrystallization of some films to the wurtzite structure. At the latter temperature atoms could also sometimes be locked in the zinc blende phase after annealing. When full recrystallization did not take place, both wurtzite and zinc blende phases were seen in the same layer, resulting in a phase boundary. Investigation of the various distributions of deposition species showed that, during evaporation, the best quality film resulted from a stoichiometric distribution where only ZnO clusters were deposited. During sputtering, however, the best quality film resulted from a slightly O rich distribution. Two stoichiometric distributions, one involving mainly ZnO clusters and the other involving mainly single species, showed that the distribution of deposition species makes a huge impact on the grown film. The deposition of predominantly single species causes many more O atoms at the surface to be sputtered or reflected, resulting in an O deficiency of up to 18% in the deposited film and therefore resulting in more stacking faults and phase boundaries. The methods used allow analysis of key mechanisms that occur during the growth process and give hints as to the optimum conditions under which complete crystalline layers can form. © 2013 IOP Publishing Ltd.



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  • Mathematical Sciences


BLACKWELL, S. ... et al., 2013. Modelling the growth of ZnO thin films by PVD methods and the effects of post-annealing. Journal of Physics Condensed Matter, 25 (13) 135002 doi:10.1088/0953-8984/25/13/135002


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This article was published in the Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter [© IOP Publishing Ltd.] and the definitive version is available at:







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