Materials Science

Coverage and Stability of NHx Terminated Cobalt and Ruthenium Surfaces: a First Principles Investigation

Michael Nolan Tyndall National Institute, UCC, Lee Maltings, Cork


In the atomic layer deposition (ALD) of Cobalt (Co) and Ruthenium (Ru) metal using nitrogen plasma, the structure and composition of the post N-plasma NHx terminated (x = 1 or 2) metal surfaces are not well known but are important in the subsequent metal containing pulse. In this paper, we use the low-index (001) and (100) surfaces of Co and Ru as models of the metal polycrystalline thin films. The (001) surface with a hexagonal surface structure is the most stable surface and the (100) surface with a zigzag structure is the least stable surface but has high reactivity. We investigate the stability of NH and NH2 terminations on these surfaces to determine the saturation coverage of NHx on Co and Ru. NH is most stable in the hollow hcp site on (001) surface and the bridge site on the (100) surface, while NH2 prefers the bridge site on both (001) and (100) surfaces. The differential energy is calculated to find the saturation coverage of NH and NH2. We also present results on mixed NH/NH2-terminations. The results are analyzed by thermodynamics using Gibbs free energies (ΔG) to reveal temperature effects on the stability of NH and NH2 terminations. Ultra-high vacuum (UHV) and standard ALD
operating conditions are considered. Under typical ALD operating conditions we find that the most stable NHx terminated metal surfaces are 1 ML NH on Ru (001) surface (350K-550K), 5/9 ML NH on Co (001) surface (400K-650K) and a mixture of NH and NH2 on both Ru (100) and Co (100) surfaces.

Version notes

Submitted version


Thumbnail image of Nhx_Ji_preprint.pdf
download asset Nhx_Ji_preprint.pdf 3 MB [opens in a new tab]