Piezoelectric and structural properties of c-axis textured aluminium scandium nitride thin films up to high scandium content

Stefan Mertin, Bernd Heinz, Oliver Rattunde, Gabriel Christmann, Marc Alexandre Dubois, Sylvain Nicolay, Paul Muralt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Partial substitution of aluminium by scandium in the wurtzite structure of aluminium nitride (AlN) leads to a large increase of the piezoelectric response by more than a factor of 2. Therefore, aluminium scandium nitride (ASN) thin films attracted much attention to improve piezoelectric MEMS devices such as RF filters, sensors, micro actuators and energy harvesting devices. In this work, process-microstructure-property relationships of ASN thin films containing up to 42% Sc were investigated. Like AlN thin films, ASN films are sputter deposited at 300–350°C with pulsed DC powered magnetrons. The influence of the process parameters on the film structure, the intrinsic stress and the piezoelectric response was investigated in order to achieve optimal piezoelectric coefficients up to high Sc concentrations. X-Ray diffraction (XRD) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) were used to analyse the quality of c-axis texture. The films showed exclusively (002) texture with rocking-curve widths in the range of 1.3–2° (FHWM). The films were further analysed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The Sc content was determined by energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX). A good compositional homogeneity in the range of 0.5–1 at.% was achieved between border and centre of 200-mm wafers. So far, we obtained ASN films with transversal piezoelectric coefficients of up to e31,f = −2.77 C/m2, which is a factor 2.6 higher than in pure AlN thin films.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-6
Number of pages5
JournalSurface and Coatings Technology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Aluminium scandium nitride
  • C-axis texture
  • Electron microscopy
  • Piezoelectric thin films
  • Reactive magnetron sputtering
  • X-ray diffraction


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