Journal of Applied Physics vol:98 issue:8 pages:083515-1-083515-9
Gaseous precursors for the atomic layer deposition (ALD) process can penetrate and deposit inside porous dielectrics. Understanding the relationship between the substrate porosity and the size and shape of precursor molecules used for the ALD of dielectric or metal films on these substrates is crucial for the formation and fabrication of reliable nanostructures. Sealing the surface pores is highly desirable to prevent the deposition of gaseous ALD precursors inside the porous network. In this study, in-diffusion of precursors is investigated using x-ray reflectivity, transmission electron microscopy, and Rutherford backscattering spectrometry for different porous substrates and binary (TaN) and ternary (WNC) ALD systems. Experimental observations are complemented with computational molecular modeling performed in the framework of the density-functional-theory formalism to determine the size and shape of ALD precursors. Pore sealing treatments are used to prevent a precursor penetration and to provide a suitable starting surface for the nucleation and growth of ALD films.