Self-limiting atomic layer deposition of conformal nano-structured silver films

Golrokhi, Zahra; Chalker, Sophia; Sutcliffe, Christopher J. and Potter, Richard J. (2015). Self-limiting atomic layer deposition of conformal nano-structured silver films. Applied Surface Science, 364 pp. 789–797.



The controlled deposition of ultra-thin conformal silver nanoparticle films is of interest for applications including anti-microbial surfaces, plasmonics, catalysts and sensors. While numerous techniques can produce silver nanoparticles, few are able to produce highly conformal coatings on high aspect ratio surfaces, together with sub-nanometre control and scalability. Here we develop a self-limiting atomic layer deposition (ALD) process for the deposition of conformal metallic silver nanoparticle films. The films have been deposited using direct liquid injection ALD with ((hexafluoroacetylacetonato)silver(I)(1,5-cyclooctadiene)) and propan-1-ol. An ALD temperature window between 123 and 128 °C is identified and within this range self-limiting growth is confirmed with a mass deposition rate of ∼17.5 ng/cm2/cycle. The effects of temperature, precursor dose, co-reactant dose and cycle number on the deposition rate and on the properties of the films have been systematically investigated. Under self-limiting conditions, films are metallic silver with a nano-textured surface topography and nanoparticle size is dependent on the number of ALD cycles. The ALD reaction mechanisms have been elucidated using in-situ quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) measurements, showing chemisorption of the silver precursor, followed by heterogeneous catalytic dehydrogenation of the alcohol to form metallic silver and an aldehyde.

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