Comparative study of thermal and radical-enhanced methods for growing boron nitride films from diborane and ammonia

Ramazan O. Apaydin, Arnoud J. Onnink, Xingyu Liu, Antonius A.I. Aarnink, Michel P. de Jong, Dirk J Gravesteijn, Alexey Y. Kovalgin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
175 Downloads (Pure)


This work studies the deposition of boron/boron nitride (B/BN) composite films at low substrate temperature (275–375 °C) by alternating pulses of diborane (B2H6) and ammonia (NH3) with argon purging in between to avoid gas-phase reactions of the precursors. This process is similar to atomic layer deposition in which the dominance of surface reactions simplifies the growth mechanism. However, non-self-limiting decomposition of B2H6 and incomplete nitridation lead to the incorporation of pure boron (pure-B), causing deviation from the desired 1:1 B:N stoichiometry. Using the pure-B fraction as a measure of incomplete nitridation, this article describes consecutive experiments to control this effect and ultimately understand it in the context of a surface reaction model. First, it is demonstrated that, in a purely thermal mode, the growth of the layers and their composition strongly depend on the total gas pressure. The pure-B content (not to be confused with the total boron content) could thus be varied in the range of ∼6–70 vol. %. Next, enhancement of nitridation by the dissociation of NH3 into reactive radicals using a hot-wire was found to be insufficient to produce stoichiometric BN. Finally, plasma-assisted deposition at 310 °C resulted in nearly stoichiometric polycrystalline BN with an interplane distance matching that of hexagonal BN; the material was stable in air for at least six months. The pressure dependence in the purely thermal mode is consistent with a growth model of BN from B2H6 and NH3 via the so-called surface-adduct mechanism. The effects of the radical-enhanced methods on nitridation are explained using this model
Original languageEnglish
Article number033411
JournalJournal of vacuum science and technology A: vacuum, surfaces, and films
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2020


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