Effects of plasma parameter on morphological and electrical properties of superconducting Nb-N deposited by MO-PEALD

in: IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity (2017)
Ziegler, Mario; Linzen, Sven Peter; Goerke, Sebastian; Brückner, Uwe; Dellith, Jan; Himmerlich, Anja; Himmerlich, Marcel; Hübner, Uwe; Krischok, Stefan; Meyer, Hans-Georg; Plentz, Jonathan
This paper describes the deposition of superconductive Nb-N thin films in a metal-organic plasma-enhanced atomic layer deposition (MO-PEALD) process using (tert-butylimido)-tris (diethylamino)-niobium (TBTDEN) and hydrogen plasma as precursors. In extension of our previous work, which investigated the possibility to deposit superconducting Nb-N, we systematically investigated the influence of different plasma parameters on superconducting and morphological properties of the niobium nitride thin film formed during the process. An initial increase of the duration of the plasma dose led to higher transitions temperatures and critical current densities, the optimum being a plasma dose time of 50 s. By decreasing plasma pressure, the resistivity at room temperature decreased, while the transition temperature increased. In addition, Nb-N thin films were deposited onto several substrates such as silicon, thermally grown silica, magnesium oxide (MgO) and r-plane sapphire. TC values from 6.2 K up to 14 K were achieved independently of the substrate materials. However, films deposited on MgO showed lower TC values. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy measurement revealed the presence of niobium nitride but also of niobium oxide and oxy-nitride components in the films as well as the existence of a high amount of incorporated carbon impurities. X-ray diffraction measurements revealed two significant reflexes, which could be attributed to niobium nitride only. No crystalline niobium oxide or niobium oxynitride was detected. Thus, the films consisted of a matrix of polycrystalline NbN and amorphous or microcrystalline grains of different niobium oxide and oxynitride phases. Due to the fact, that the deposited material showed superconductivity especially for ultrathin layers with thicknesses in the nanometer range, these films may be suitable for superconducting nanowire single photon detectors (SNSPD).

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