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Unveiling the complex electronic structure of amorphous metal oxides
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Materials Science and Engineering, Applied Material Physics.
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2011 (English)In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, ISSN 0027-8424, E-ISSN 1091-6490, Vol. 108, no 16, 6355-6360 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Amorphous materials represent a large and important emerging area of material's science. Amorphous oxides are key technological oxides in applications such as a gate dielectric in Complementary metal-oxide semiconductor devices and in Silicon-Oxide-Nitride-Oxide-Silicon and TANOS (TaN-Al2O3-Si3N4-SiO2-Silicon) flash memories. These technologies are required for the high packing density of today's integrated circuits. Therefore the investigation of defect states in these structures is crucial. In this work we present X-ray synchrotron measurements, with an energy resolution which is about 5-10 times higher than is attainable with standard spectrometers, of amorphous alumina. We demonstrate that our experimental results are in agreement with calculated spectra of amorphous alumina which we have generated by stochastic quenching. This first principles method, which we have recently developed, is found to be superior to molecular dynamics in simulating the rapid gas to solid transition that takes place as this material is deposited for thin film applications. We detect and analyze in detail states in the band gap that originate from oxygen pairs. Similar states were previously found in amorphous alumina by other spectroscopic methods and were assigned to oxygen vacancies claimed to act mutually as electron and hole traps. The oxygen pairs which we probe in this work act as hole traps only and will influence the information retention in electronic devices. In amorphous silica oxygen pairs have already been found, thus they may be a feature which is characteristic also of other amorphous metal oxides.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 108, no 16, 6355-6360 p.
Keyword [en]
stochastic quench, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, ab initio, coating
National Category
Physical Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-33456DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1019698108ISI: 000289680400011ScopusID: 2-s2.0-79955593096OAI: diva2:418593
Swedish Research Council
QC 20110523Available from: 2011-05-23 Created: 2011-05-09 Last updated: 2012-03-28Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Atomistic modelling of functional solid oxides for industrial applications: Density Functional Theory, hybrid functional and GW-based studies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Atomistic modelling of functional solid oxides for industrial applications: Density Functional Theory, hybrid functional and GW-based studies
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this Thesis a set of functional solid oxides for industrial applications have been addressed by first principles and thermodynamical modelling. More specificially, measurable quantities such as Gibbs free energy, geometry and electronic structure have been calculated and compared when possible with experimental data. These are crystalline and amorphous aluminum oxide (Al2O3), Zirconia (ZrO2), magnesium oxide (MgO), indiumoxide (In2O3) and Kaolinite clay (Al2Si2O5(OH)4).

The reader is provided a computation tool box, which contains a set of methods to calculate properties of oxides that are measurable in an experiment. There are three goals which we would like to reach when trying to calculate experimental quantities. The first is verification. Without verification of the theory we are utilizing, we cannot reach the second goal -prediction. Ultimately, this may be (and to some extent already is) the future of first principles methods, since their basis lies within the fundamental quantum mechanics and since they require no experimental input apart from what is known from the periodic table. Examples of the techniques which may provide verification are X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), X-ray Absorption and Emission Spectroscopy (XAS and XES), Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy and Photo-Emission Spectroscopy (PES). These techniques involve a number of complex phenomena which puts high demands on the chosen computational method/s. Together, theory and experiment may enhance the understanding of materials properties compared to the standalone methods. This is the final goal which we are trying to reach -understanding. When used correctly, first principles theory may play the role of a highly resolved analysis method, which provides details of structural and electronic properties on an atomiclevel. One example is the use of first principles to resolve spectra of multicomponentsamples. Another is the analysis of low concentrations of defects. Thorough analysis of the nanoscale properties of products might not be possible in industry due to time and cost limitations. This leads to limited control of for example low concentrations of defects, which may still impact the final performance of the product. On example within cutting tool industry is the impact of defect contents on the melting point and stability of protective coatings. Such defects could be hardening elements such as Si, Mn, S, Ca which diffuse from a steel workpiece into the protective coating during high temperature machining. Other problems are the solving of Fe from the workpiece into the coating and reactions between iron oxide, formed as the workpiece surface is oxidized, and the protective coating.

The second part of the computational toolbox which is provided to the reader is the simulation of solid oxide synthesis. Here, a formation energy formalism, most often applied to materials intended in electronics devices is applied. The simulation of Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) and Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) requires good knowledge of the experimental conditions, which can then be applied in the theoretical simulations. Effects of temperature, chemical and electron potential, modelled concentration and choice of theoretical method on the heat of formation of different solid oxides with and without dopants are addressed in this work. A considerable part of this Thesis is based upon first principles calculations, more specifically, Density Functional Theory (DFT) After Kohn and Pople received the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1998, the use of DFT for computational modelling has increased strikingly (see Fig. 1). The use of other first principles methods such as hybrid functionals and the GW approach (see abbreviations for short explanations and chapter 4.5 and 5.3.) have also become increasingly popular, due to the improved computational resources. These methods are also employed in this Thesis.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2011
density functional theory, oxides, GW
National Category
Condensed Matter Physics Condensed Matter Physics Condensed Matter Physics
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-29257 (URN)978-91-7415-868-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-02-18, F3, Lindstedsvägen 26, KTH, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
QC 20110201Available from: 2011-02-01 Created: 2011-01-28 Last updated: 2012-03-28Bibliographically approved

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Århammar, CeciliaJohansson, BörjeAhuja, Rajeev
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