Wake-up free ferroelectric hafnia-zirconia capacitors fabricated via vacuum-maintaining atomic layer deposition

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


  • H. Alex Hsain - , North Carolina State University, NaMLab - Nanoelectronic materials laboratory gGmbH (Author)
  • Younghwan Lee - , North Carolina State University (Author)
  • Patrick D. Lomenzo - , NaMLab - Nanoelectronic materials laboratory gGmbH (Author)
  • Ruben Alcala - , NaMLab - Nanoelectronic materials laboratory gGmbH (Author)
  • Bohan Xu - , NaMLab - Nanoelectronic materials laboratory gGmbH (Author)
  • Thomas Mikolajick - , Chair of Nanoelectronics, NaMLab - Nanoelectronic materials laboratory gGmbH (Author)
  • Uwe Schroeder - , NaMLab - Nanoelectronic materials laboratory gGmbH (Author)
  • Gregory N. Parsons - , North Carolina State University (Author)
  • Jacob L. Jones - , North Carolina State University (Author)


Ferroelectric hafnium-zirconium oxide (HZO) is an excellent candidate for low-power non-volatile memory applications due to its demonstrated ferroelectricity at the nanoscale and compatibility with silicon-based technologies. The interface of HZO in contact with its electrode, typically TiN in a metal-ferroelectric-metal (MFM) capacitor configuration, is of particular interest because factors, such as volume confinement, impurity concentration, interfacial layers, thermal expansion mismatch, and defect trapping, are believed to play a crucial role in the ferroelectric performance of HZO-based devices. Processing variables, such as precursor type, oxygen source, dose duration, and deposition temperature, are known to strongly affect the quality of the oxide-metal interface. However, not many studies have focused on the effect of breaking or maintaining vacuum during MFM deposition. In this study, sequential, no-atmosphere processing (SNAP) is employed to avoid atmospheric exposure, where electrode TiN and ferroelectric HZO are deposited sequentially in the atomic layer deposition chamber without breaking vacuum. The effect of breaking vacuum during the sequential deposition steps is elucidated by fabricating and characterizing MFM capacitors with and without intentional vacuum breaks prior to the deposition of the HZO and top TiN. Using x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS), we reveal that breaking vacuum after bottom TiN electrode deposition leads to interfacial oxidation and increased carbon contamination, which preferentially stabilizes the non-ferroelectric tetragonal phase and lead to diminished remanent polarization. Avoiding carbon impurities and interfacial TiOx at the HZO and TiN interface using SNAP leads to heightened remanent polarization, reduced leakage current density, and elimination of the wake-up effect. Our work highlights the effect of vacuum breaking on the processing-structure-properties of HZO-based capacitors, revealing that maintaining vacuum can significantly improve ferroelectric properties.


Original languageEnglish
Article number225304
JournalJournal of applied physics
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2023

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ORCID /0000-0003-3814-0378/work/142256367


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