X ray diffraction, x ray reflectivity, thin film, cu, w, pt ru, pase identification, grain size, dislocation density, microstrain, surface morphology, capillarity


Nanometric thin films are used widely throughout various industries and for various applications. Metallic thin films, specifically, are relied upon extensively in the microelectronics industry, among others. For example, alloy thin films are being investigated for CMOS applications, tungsten films find uses as contacts and diffusion barriers, and copper is used often as interconnect material. Appropriate metrology methods must therefore be used to characterize the physical properties of these films. Xray scattering experiments are well suited for the investigation of nano-scaled systems, and are the focus of this doctoral dissertation. Emphasis is placed on (1) phase identification of polycrystalline thin films, (2) the evaluation of the grain size and microstrain of metallic thin films by line profile analysis, and (3) the study of morphological evolution in solid/solid interfaces. To illustrate the continued relevance of x-ray diffraction for phase identification of simple binary alloy systems, Pt-Ru thin films, spanning the compositional range from pure Pt to pure Ru were investigated. In these experiments, a meta-stable extension of the HCP phase is observed in which the steepest change in the electronic work function coincides with a rapid change in the c/a ratio of the HCP phase. For grain size and microstrain analysis, established line profile methods are discussed in terms of Cu and W thin film analysis. Grain sizes obtained by x-ray diffraction are compared to transmission electron microscopy based analyses. Significant discrepancies between x-ray and electron microscopy are attributed to sub-grain misorientations arising from dislocation core spreading at the film/substrate interface. A novel "residual" full width half max parameter is introduced for examining the iv contribution of strain to x-ray peak broadening. The residual width is subsequently used to propose an empirical method of line profile analysis for thin films on substrates. X-ray reflectivity was used to study the evolution of interface roughness with annealing for a series of Cu thin films that were encapsulated in both SiO2 and Ta/SiO2. While all samples follow similar growth dynamics, notable differences in the roughness evolution with high temperature ex-situ annealing were observed. The annealing resulted in a smoothing of only one interface for the SiO2 encapsulated films, while neither interface of the Ta/SiO2 encapsulated films evolved significantly. The fact that only the upper Cu/SiO2 interface evolves is attributed to mechanical pinning of the lower interface to the rigid substrate. The lack of evolution of the Cu/Ta/SiO2 interface is consistent with the lower diffusivity expected of Cu in a Cu/Ta interface as compared to that in a Cu/SiO2 interface. The smoothing of the upper Cu/SiO2 interface qualitatively follows that expected for capillarity driven surface diffusion but with notable quantitative deviation.


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Graduation Date





Coffey, Kevin


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Materials Science Engineering

Degree Program

Materials Science and Engineering








Release Date

May 2013

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering and Computer Science, Engineering and Computer Science -- Dissertations, Academic