This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Growth and Characterization of ZnO and PZT Films for Micromachined Acoustic Wave Devices




Yoon, Sang

Type of Degree



Materials Engineering


The ability to detect the presence of low concentrations of harmful substances, such as biomolecular agents, warfare agents, and pathogen cells, in our environment and food chain would greatly advance our safety, provide more sensitive tools for medical diagnostics, and protect against terrorism. Acoustic wave (AW) devices have been widely studied for such applications due to several attractive properties, such as rapid response, reliability, portability, ease of use, and low cost. The principle of these sensors is based on a fundamental feature of the acoustic wave that is generated and detected by a piezoelectric material. The performance of the device, therefore, greatly depends on the properties of piezoelectric thin film. The required properties include a high piezoelectric coefficient and high electromechanical coefficients. The surface roughness and the mechanical properties, such as Young’s modulus and hardness, are also factors that can affect the wave propagation of the device. Since the film properties are influenced by the structure of the material, understanding thin film structure is very important for the design of high-performance piezoelectric MEMS devices for biosensor applications. In this research, two piezoelectric thin film materials were fabricated and investigated. ZnO films were fabricated by CSD (Chemical Solution Deposition) and sputtering, and PZT films were fabricated by CSD only. The process parameters for solution derived ZnO and PZT films, such as the substrate type, the effect of the chelating agent, and heat treatment, were studied to find the relationship between process parameters and thin film structure. In the case of the sputtered ZnO films, the process gas types and their ratio, heat treatment in situ, and post deposition were investigated. The key results of systematic experiments show that the combined influence of chemical modifiers and substrates in chemical solution deposition have an effect on the crystallographic orientation of the films, which is explained by the phase transformation that occurs from amorphous pyrolized film to crystalline film. Sputtered ZnO films do not show a strong dependence on the parameters, possibly indicating a reduced energy barrier for the growth of ZnO film due to plasma energy. Based on an understanding of the relationship between process and thin film structure, the growth mechanism of CSD ZnO is proposed. The devices are fabricated on 4-inch silicon wafers by a microelectronic fabrication method. The fabrication procedure and issues relating to device fabrication are discussed.