Structural characterization of ZnO thin films grown on various substrates by pulsed laser deposition

Novotný, M.; Čížek, J.; Kužel, R.; Bulíř, J.; Lančok, J.; Connolly, J.; McCarthy, E.; Krishnamurthy, Satheesh; Mosnier, J-P.; Anwand, W. and Brauer, G. (2012). Structural characterization of ZnO thin films grown on various substrates by pulsed laser deposition. Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, 45, article no. 225101.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1088/0022-3727/45/22/225101

Abstract

ZnO thin films were grown by pulsed laser deposition on three different substrates: sapphire (0 0 0 1), MgO (1 0 0) and fused silica (FS). The structure and morphology of the films were characterized by x-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy and defect studies were carried out using slow positron implantation spectroscopy (SPIS). Films deposited on all substrates studied in this work exhibit the wurtzite ZnO structure and are characterized by an average crystallite size of 20–100 nm. However, strong differences in the microstructure of films deposited on various substrates were found. The ZnO films deposited on MgO and sapphire single-crystalline substrates exhibit local epitaxy, i.e. a well-defined relation between film crystallites and the substrate. Domains with different orientation relationships with the substrate were found in both films. On the other hand, the film deposited on the FS substrate exhibits fibre texture with random lateral orientation of crystallites. Extremely high compressive in-plane stress of σ ~ 14 GPa was determined in the film deposited on the MgO substrate, while the film deposited on sapphire is virtually stress-free, and the film deposited on the FS substrate exhibits a tensile in-plane stress of σ ~ 0.9 GPa. SPIS investigations revealed that the concentration of open-volume defects in the ZnO films is substantially higher than that in a bulk ZnO single crystal. Moreover, the ZnO films deposited on MgO and sapphire single-crystalline substrates exhibit a significantly higher density of defects than the film deposited on the amorphous FS substrate.

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