MSCI/ELEC 545 - Thin Films – Fall 2008 - Syllabus revised 8/25/08

Deposition methods, structure, properties, applications and failure mechanisms of thin solid films. Includes sputtering, plating, evaporation and chemical vapor deposition of crystalline and amorphous metals, semiconductors and insulators. Applications are primarily in microelectronics, data storage, micro-electro-mechanical systems, wear & corrosion prevention and thermal barriers.

  • Instructor: Peter Loos on campus: ME 215, x3698, ploos@rice.??? home: 281-710-4164 mobile: 281-250-4998
  • Class Schedule: Tues/Thurs, 1:00-2:15pm Location: Duncan Hall 1075
  • Prerequisites: Either MSCI 301, ELEC 261 or 422 or  MSCI/PHYS 535 is recommended, otherwise see Instructor.
  • Text: Materials Science of  Thin Films, 2nd ed. by M. Ohring, Academic Press / Elsevier, 2002. Available new from and for $102. Used copies are available too. A copy is on reserve at Fondren.  The Campus Store had three in stock as of Aug. 21.
  • Grading: homework 35%, paper 30%,  tests 30%, quizzes 5%.  There will be about eight homework problem sets, two tests, one paper and three quizzes.  Points may be deducted for assignments turned in late.
  • Course/Instructor Evaluations spring 2005:   and spring 2007: and
  • Lab project:  MECH 407/408 or special topics class (MSCI 614/615?), development of MEMS devices



Physical vapor deposition: Evaporation of various metals, semiconductors and dielectrics. Sputtering of Ti and TiN for adhesion, plating seed layers, diffusion barrier layers and corrosion resistance.  Sputtering of amorphous WSi2 for IC gate electrodes.

Chemical vapor deposition:  WSi2, W and Si for electrical interconnect.   Silicon nitride for capacitors, electrical isolation, oxidation block layer, memory cells, antifuses and protective overcoat.  Silicon oxide doped with B and/or P for electrical isolation, planarization, and mobile ion control.  Epitaxy for producing a lightly-doped or highly stressed layer on a single-crystal substrate.

Thermal/mechanical deposition: Spin-on coatings such as glass and polymers for IC planarization, isolation and protective overcoat; magnetic/optical films for data storage disks; and anti-reflective coatings.   High-purity oxide films for MOS semiconductor gate dielectric.

Aqueous deposition: Electroplated Cu for integrated circuit (IC) damascene interconnect.  Electroless Ni-P plating for wear and corrosion resistance, the first metallic glass.

Film characterization: Measurement of basic properties: thickness, sheet resistance, weight gain, reflectivity, stress, roughness, hardness, and yield strength.  Capacitance-voltage (CV) testing of metal-oxide-semiconductor structures.  Analysis of composition and structure by secondary ion mass spectroscopy (SIMS), Rutherford backscatter spectroscopy (RBS), etc.  - principles, advantages and limitations of each.  Reliability: adhesion, electromigration, and mobile ions.

Other topics:  Use of thin films as sensors: resistive temperature sensors, strain gauges, magnetic disk read/write heads, chemical analysis.   Patterning of films (photolithography).

Optional Supplemental Reading

VLSI Technology 2nd Edition by S. M. Sze, McGraw Hill 1988 ...Covers of all aspects of integrated circuit technology, and about half is devoted to thin film processing and materials issues.  Excellent book, but out of print.

Silicon Processing for the VLSI Era - Volume 1 - Process Technology by S. Wolf and R. Tauber, Lattice Press, 1986 ...Excellent, comprehensive discussion of the many diverse processing techniques and materials used in integrated circuits. Covers much of the same material as the Sze book but in more detail.  Great book, but no problems are provided and it costs about $230 new.  Includes one especially useful chapter concerning design of experiments.  A copy (of the 2000 edition) is on reserve at Fondren Library.

An Introduction to Physics and Technology of Thin Films by A. Wagendristel and Y. Wang, World Scientific Publishing Co., 1994 ...Covers much of the same material as the Ohring text. A good value at $42. Lots of information condensed into 147 pages, but difficult to read at times.

Physics of  Thin Films 2nd edition by L. Eckertova, Plenum Press, 1986 … Covers much of the same material as the Ohring text but costs 20% more and is getting a bit out-of-date in some areas.

Electrical Conduction in Solids by D. Pollock, American Society for Metals, 1985 ...Includes in one chapter a detailed discussion of electrical resistivity in pure substances and alloys and the temperature coefficient of resistivity, with application to determination of phase equilibria, control of precipitation during heat treatment, order/disorder and allotropic transformations, clustering, effects of deformation, strain gauges and thermometry. 

Handbook of Sputter Deposition Technology by K. Wasa and S. Hayakawa, Noyes Publications, 1992 ...among other helpful information, Table 1.1 summarizes a wide variety of size (thickness) effects in thin films. 

Handbook of Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) Processing by Donald M. Mattox, Noyes Publications, 1998. ...includes preparation of substrates, vacuum equipment, plasmas, deposition equipment, film nucleation and growth, process control, film characterization, film adhesion, as well as mentioning alternatives to PVD. Very thorough.

The Chemistry of Metal CVD edited by T. Kodas and M. Hampden-Smith, VCH Publishers, 1994. ...While focusing in detail on the CVD of Al, W, Cu, Au, Ag, Pt, Pd & Ni for integrated circuit applications, the book also touches on 21 other pure metals and several stoichiometric compounds which can be deposited by CVD and some which are problematic and can't be deposited by CVD. Applications other than integrated circuits are considered only briefly.

Metals Handbook 9th ed. by ASM Handbook Committee, especially: Volume 5: Surface Cleaning, Finishing and Coating;  Volume 8: Metallography and Microstructures; and Volume 10: Materials Characterization. ... Metals Handbook is a great resource for materials scientists, metallurgists, chemists, and crystallographers.

Optical Properties of Thin Solid Films by O. Heavens, Dover, 1955 ...A classic reference book, only $15 in paperback.

Resources On the Web

MEMS Devices:


Any student with a disability requiring accommodations in this course is encouraged to contact Instructor after class or by phone and also Disability Support Services in the Ley Student Center.