Aluminum oxide and aluminum nitride-containing films were grown by atomic layer deposition (ALD) and plasma-enhanced atomic layer deposition (PE-ALD) by employing an under-utilized tris(dimethylamido)aluminum(III) precursor. This compound has not been reported as a precursor for ALD of alumina previously, and has only been reported as an AlN precursor for a thermal process using ammonia as a coreagent. Thermogravimetric analysis demonstrates its excellent volatility and thermal stability, both of which are ideal characteristics for an ALD precursor. Aluminum oxide films were deposited thermally using water as a coreagent. By x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, the films appeared nearly pristine with only adventitious carbon on the surface accumulated postdeposition that was easily removed with 2 min of Ar+ sputtering. The rest of the films contained a very low 1.4% impurity of carbon. Aluminum nitride films were attempted using the same aluminum precursor with nitrogen plasma as a coreagent; they contained large amounts of oxygen due to ambient exposure, possible oxidation during characterization, or the presence of incidental oxygen during the deposition of AlN, which allowed the formation of an aluminum oxynitride. Though the composition was not stoichiometrically AlN, the films also contained ∼1% carbon impurities, which is an improvement over many other AlN films reported, particularly those using TMA as a precursor. This precursor shows great promise for the deposition of low-impurity or impurity-free aluminum nitride by PE-ALD.

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Journal Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology A
Buttera, S.C. (Sydney C.), Mandia, D.J. (David J.), & Barry, S.T. (2017). Tris(dimethylamido)aluminum(III): An overlooked atomic layer deposition precursor. Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology A, 35(1). doi:10.1116/1.4972469