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Surfaces 2018, 1(1), 59-72; https://doi.org/10.3390/surfaces1010006

Material Structure and Mechanical Properties of Silicon Nitride and Silicon Oxynitride Thin Films Deposited by Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition

1
School of Materials Science and Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 639798, Singapore
2
School of Materials Science and Engineering, Liaocheng University, Liaocheng 252000, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 May 2018 / Revised: 22 August 2018 / Accepted: 27 August 2018 / Published: 30 August 2018
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Abstract

Silicon nitride and silicon oxynitride thin films are widely used in microelectronic fabrication and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). Their mechanical properties are important for MEMS structures; however, these properties are rarely reported, particularly the fracture toughness of these films. In this study, silicon nitride and silicon oxynitride thin films were deposited by plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) under different silane flow rates. The silicon nitride films consisted of mixed amorphous and crystalline Si3N4 phases under the range of silane flow rates investigated in the current study, while the crystallinity increased with silane flow rate in the silicon oxynitride films. The Young’s modulus and hardness of silicon nitride films decreased with increasing silane flow rate. However, for silicon oxynitride films, Young’s modulus decreased slightly with increasing silane flow rate, and the hardness increased considerably due to the formation of a crystalline silicon nitride phase at the high flow rate. Overall, the hardness, Young modulus, and fracture toughness of the silicon nitride films were greater than the ones of silicon oxynitride films, and the main reason lies with the phase composition: the SiNx films were composed of a crystalline Si3N4 phase, while the SiOxNy films were dominated by amorphous Si–O phases. Based on the overall mechanical properties, PECVD silicon nitride films are preferred for structural applications in MEMS devices. View Full-Text
Keywords: silicon nitride; silicon oxynitride; thin film; PECVD; mechanical property; hardness; Young’s modulus; fracture toughness silicon nitride; silicon oxynitride; thin film; PECVD; mechanical property; hardness; Young’s modulus; fracture toughness
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Gan, Z.; Wang, C.; Chen, Z. Material Structure and Mechanical Properties of Silicon Nitride and Silicon Oxynitride Thin Films Deposited by Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition. Surfaces 2018, 1, 59-72.

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