Nb Texture Evolution and Interdiffusion in Nb/Si-Layered Systems

Anirudhan Chandrasekaran*, Robbert W.E. van de Kruijs, Jacobus M. Sturm, Fred Bijkerk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
61 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper, we present a detailed study on the microstructure evolution and interdiffusion in Nb/Si-layered systems. Interlayer formation during the early stages of growth in sputter-deposited Nb-on-Si and Si-on-Nb bilayer systems is studied in vacuo using a high-sensitivity low-energy ion-scattering technique. An asymmetric intermixing behavior is observed, where the Si-on-Nb interface is ∼2× thinner than the Nb-on-Si interface, and it is explained by the surface-energy difference between Nb and Si. During Nb-on-Si growth, the crystallization of the Nb layer occurs around 2.1 nm as-deposited Nb thickness with a strong Nb(110)-preferred orientation, which is maintained up to 3.3 nm as-deposited Nb thickness. A further increase in the Nb layer thickness above 3.3 nm results in a polycrystalline microstructure with a reduced degree of texture. High-resolution cross-sectional transmission electron microscopy imaging is performed on Nb/Si multilayers to study the effect of the Nb layer texture on interdiffusion during low-temperature annealing. Nb/Si multilayers with amorphous 2 nm Nb layers and strongly textured 3 nm thick Nb layers, with limited grain-boundary pathways for diffusion, show no observable interdiffusion during annealing at 200 °C for 8 h, whereas in a Nb/Si multilayer with polycrystalline 4 nm thick Nb layers, a ∼1 nm amorphous Nb/Si interlayer is formed at the Si-on-Nb interface during annealing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31260-31270
Number of pages11
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2021


  • interdiffusion
  • ion channeling
  • low-energy ion-scattering
  • metal-silicon interface
  • preferred orientation
  • sputter deposition
  • thin film growth
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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