Core-level spectra and binding energies of transition metal nitrides by non-destructive x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy through capping layers
2017 (English)In: Applied Surface Science, ISSN 0169-4332, E-ISSN 1873-5584, Vol. 396, 347-358 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
We present the first measurements of x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) core level binding energies (BE: s) for the widely-applicable group IVb-VIb polycrystalline transition metal nitrides (TMN's) TiN, VN, CrN, ZrN, NbN, MoN, HfN, TaN, and WN as well as AlN and SiN, which are common components in the TMN-based alloy systems. Nitride thin film samples were grown at 400.degrees C by reactive dc magnetron sputtering from elemental targets in Ar/ N-2 atmosphere. For XPS measurements, layers are either (i) Ar+ ion-etched to remove surface oxides resulting from the air exposure during sample transfer from the growth chamber into the XPS system, or (ii) in situ capped with a few nm thick Cr or W overlayers in the deposition system prior to air-exposure and loading into the XPS instrument. Film elemental composition and phase content is thoroughly characterized with time-of-flight elastic recoil detection analysis (ToF(-) ERDA), Rutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS), and x-ray diffraction. High energy resolution core level XPS spectra acquired with monochromatic Al K alpha radiation on the ISO-calibrated instrument reveal that even mild etching conditions result in the formation of a nitrogen-deficient surface layer that substantially affects the extracted binding energy values. These spectra-modifying effects of Ar+ ion bombardment increase with increasing the metal atom mass due to an increasing nitrogen-to-metal sputter yield ratio. The superior quality of the XPS spectra obtained in a non-destructive way from capped TMN films is evident from that numerous metal peaks, including Ti 2p, V 2p, Zr 3d, and Hf 4f, exhibit pronounced satellite features, in agreement with previously published spectra from layers grown and analyzed in situ. In addition, the N/ metal concentration ratios are found to be 25-90% higher than those obtained from the corresponding ion-etched surfaces, and in most cases agree very well with the RBS and ToF-E ERDA values. The N 1 s BE: s extracted from capped TMN films, thus characteristic of a native surface, show a systematic trend, which contrasts with the large BE spread of literature "reference" values. Hence, non-destructive core level XPS employing capping layers provides an opportunity to obtain high-quality spectra, characteristic of virgin in situ grown and analyzed TMN films, although with larger versatility, and allows for extracting core level BE values that are more reliable than those obtained from sputter-cleaned N-deficient surfaces. Results presented here, recorded from a consistent set of binary TMN's grown under the same conditions and analyzed in the same instrument, provide a useful reference for future XPS studies of multinary materials systems allowing for true deconvolution of complex core level spectra.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 396, 347-358 p.
TiN, XPS, Magnetron sputtering, Binding energy, VN, CrN, NbN, ZrN, MoN, HfN, TaN, WN, AlN, SiN
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-318945DOI: 10.1016/j.apsusc.2016.10.152ISI: 000396223500043OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-318945DiVA: diva2:1085810
FunderKnut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, 2011.0143Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research , RIF14-0053