Thin Film Deposition on Powder Substrates using ALD and its Characterization using XPS, TEM, and SE

Dhruv Shah, Brigham Young University


The major part of my dissertation consists of thin films deposited using atomic layer deposition on flat and powder substrates. It details the various optimization experiments for process parameters like dose time, purge time, temperature, and pressure on silicon shards and powder substrates. Spectroscopic ellipsometry (SE) was used to characterize these films over a wide wavelength range (191-1688 nm). An optical model with a BEMA (Bruggeman effective medium approximation) layer was used to fit the ellipsometric data to investigate the optical properties of the alumina surface. The optimized process parameters on the flat surfaces were used for coating powder substrates. I propose a set of experiments to optimize the conditions for coating of powders and high aspect ratio structures by atomic layer deposition (ALD). The coated powders were analyzed by surface analytical techniques like X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, spectroscopic ellipsometry, transmission electron microscopy, energy X-ray dispersive spectroscopy (EDAX), and BET. The first chapter introduces the technique of atomic layer deposition, and details its advantages and limitations over conventional thin film deposition techniques like chemical vapor deposition and physical vapor deposition. The second chapter details the initial deposition experiments performed on flat surfaces and characterization of thin films using surface analytical tools. I conducted multi-sample analysis on eleven different thin films for calculation of optical constants of alumina. The third chapter introduces thin film deposition experiments performed on powder substrates, several challenges associated with achieving conformal thin films and characterization. The fourth chapter details the experiments to achieve unilateral ALD achieved on one side of the substrates. The fifth chapter details various unconventional materials including liquid water, Coca-Cola, a coffee bean, nitrogen gas, human tooth, and printed office paper, which were analyzed by near ambient pressure XPS (NAP-XPS). This dissertation contains appendices of other tutorial articles I wrote on obtaining optical constants liquid samples using spectroscopic ellipsometry, and good experimental techniques for maintenance of vacuum equipment.