High-Throughput Open-Air Plasma Activation of Metal-Oxide Thin Films with Low Thermal Budget

Young Jun Tak, Florian Hilt, Scott Keene, Won Gi Kim, Reinhold H. Dauskardt, Alberto Salleo, Hyun Jae Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


Sputter-processed oxide films are typically annealed at high temperature (activation process) to achieve stable electrical characteristics through the formation of strong metal-oxide chemical bonds. For instance, indium-gallium-zinc oxide (IGZO) films typically need a thermal treatment at 300 °C for ≥1 h as an activation process. We propose an open-air plasma treatment (OPT) to rapidly and effectively activate sputter-processed IGZO films. The OPT effectively induces metal-oxide chemical bonds in IGZO films at temperatures as low as 240 °C, with a dwell time on the order of a second. Furthermore, by controlling the plasma-processing conditions (scan speed, distance a between plasma nozzle and samples, and gas flow rate), the electrical characteristics and the microstructure of the IGZO films can be easily tuned. Finally, OPT can be utilized to implement a selective activation process. Plasma-treated IGZO thin-film transistors (TFTs) exhibit comparable electrical characteristics to those of conventionally thermal treated IGZO TFTs. Through in-depth optical, chemical, and physical characterizations, we confirm that OPT simultaneously dissociates weak chemical bonds by UV radiation and ion bombardment and re-establishes the metal-oxide network by radical reaction and OPT-induced heat.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37223-37232
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number43
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Oct 31

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)

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