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ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2011 Dec;3(12):4593-601. doi: 10.1021/am2009579. Epub 2011 Nov 16.

Al2O3 and TiO2 atomic layer deposition on copper for water corrosion resistance.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0215, USA.


Al(2)O(3) and TiO(2) atomic layer deposition (ALD) were employed to develop an ultrathin barrier film on copper to prevent water corrosion. The strategy was to utilize Al(2)O(3) ALD as a pinhole-free barrier and to protect the Al(2)O(3) ALD using TiO(2) ALD. An initial set of experiments was performed at 177 °C to establish that Al(2)O(3) ALD could nucleate on copper and produce a high-quality Al(2)O(3) film. In situ quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) measurements verified that Al(2)O(3) ALD nucleated and grew efficiently on copper-plated quartz crystals at 177 °C using trimethylaluminum (TMA) and water as the reactants. An electroplating technique also established that the Al(2)O(3) ALD films had a low defect density. A second set of experiments was performed for ALD at 120 °C to study the ability of ALD films to prevent copper corrosion. These experiments revealed that an Al(2)O(3) ALD film alone was insufficient to prevent copper corrosion because of the dissolution of the Al(2)O(3) film in water. Subsequently, TiO(2) ALD was explored on copper at 120 °C using TiCl(4) and water as the reactants. The resulting TiO(2) films also did not prevent the water corrosion of copper. Fortunately, Al(2)O(3) films with a TiO(2) capping layer were much more resilient to dissolution in water and prevented the water corrosion of copper. Optical microscopy images revealed that TiO(2) capping layers as thin as 200 Å on Al(2)O(3) adhesion layers could prevent copper corrosion in water at 90 °C for ~80 days. In contrast, the copper corroded almost immediately in water at 90 °C for Al(2)O(3) and ZnO films by themselves on copper. Ellipsometer measurements revealed that Al(2)O(3) films with a thickness of ~200 Å and ZnO films with a thickness of ~250 Å dissolved in water at 90 °C in ~10 days. In contrast, the ellipsometer measurements confirmed that the TiO(2) capping layers with thicknesses of ~200 Å on the Al(2)O(3) adhesion layers protected the copper for ~80 days in water at 90 °C. The TiO(2) ALD coatings were also hydrophilic and facilitated H(2)O wetting to copper wire mesh substrates.

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