Rapid Vapor Deposition of Highly Conformal Silica Nanolaminates

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Science  11 Oct 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5592, pp. 402-406
DOI: 10.1126/science.1073552

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Highly uniform and conformal coatings can be made by the alternating exposures of a surface to vapors of two reactants, in a process commonly called atomic layer deposition (ALD). The application of ALD has, however, been limited because of slow deposition rates, with a theoretical maximum of one monolayer per cycle. We show that alternating exposure of a surface to vapors of trimethylaluminum and tris(tert-butoxy)silanol deposits highly conformal layers of amorphous silicon dioxide and aluminum oxide nanolaminates at rates of 12 nanometers (more than 32 monolayers) per cycle. This process allows for the uniform lining or filling of long, narrow holes. We propose that these ALD layers grow by a previously unknown catalytic mechanism that also operates during the rapid ALD of many other metal silicates. This process should allow improved production of many devices, such as trench insulation between transistors in microelectronics, planar waveguides, microelectromechanical structures, multilayer optical filters, and protective layers against diffusion, oxidation, or corrosion.

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