High-rate reactive sputtering of yttria-stabilized zirconia using pulsed d.c. power

P. Yashar, J. Rechner, M. S. Wong, W. D. Sproul, S. A. Barnett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Polycrystalline yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) thin films were deposited by reactive magnetron sputtering of a Zr-Y alloy target in an Ar-O2 atmosphere. Using a combination of pulsed d.c. power at a frequency of 70 kHz at both the target and substrate, and partial pressure control of the O2 gas, arcing was controlled and a stable process was obtained. Fully-oxidized cubic (Y2O3)0.10(ZrO2)0.90 films were deposited at rates as high as 210 nm/min, or ∼60% of the metal alloy deposition rate. For films deposited onto electrically-conducting substrates, the structure and hardness of the films were affected by the negative substrate bias Vs. With Vs = floating (34 V), X-ray diffraction scans showed a strong (200) texture, which switched to a strong (111) texture for Vs = 80-150 V. Scanning electron microscopy showed a porous structure with no substrate bias and a dense structure with a bias of Vs = 80 V. The film hardness measured using nanoindentation was ≈ 4 GPa for Vs = 34 V, and reached a maximum of 17 GPa, comparable to bulk YSZ, at Vs = 80-100 V. For films deposited onto glass substrates, the pulsed d.c. substrate bias had no effect, such that porous, low-hardness YSZ was obtained. This was due to the very short time constant for charging the thick glass substrate, compared with the d.c. pulse period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-338
Number of pages6
JournalSurface and Coatings Technology
StatePublished - Oct 1997


  • Reactive sputtering
  • Yttria-stabilized zirconia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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