The morphological and electrical evolution of HfO2 and ZrO2 thin films is investigated on the nanoscale using conducting atomic-force microscopy in ultrahigh vacuum. Films of different thicknesses have been grown by atomic layer deposition. With increasing film thickness the film structure changes from amorphous to polycrystalline. By conducting atomic-force microscopy using local current–voltage curve statistics and two-dimensional current imaging it is found that the formation of crystallites has different effects on the electrical properties of the two dielectrics. In the case of HfO2, the crystalline fraction causes weak spots in the oxide, whereas for the ZrO2 films the crystallites exhibit lower leakage currents compared to the amorphous matrix and leakage is mainly determined by thickness fluctuations.
1 Apr 2005
Volume: 97 Issue: 7 Pages: 074315
Journal of applied physics