Nucleation of lattice-mismatched transition-metal nitride films: limitations on super-lattice growth

M. Shinn*, P. B. Mirkarimi, S. A. Barnett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The nucleation of epitaxial transition-metal nitride films with different lattice mismatch and growth of the corresponding superlattices were studied. In-situ Auger electron spectroscopy (AES) was used to characterize the nucleation mechanisms of V0.3Nb0.7N films on TiN (1.7% mismatch), TiN films on VN (2.4% mismatch), TiN films on NbN (3.6% mismatch), NbN films on VN (5.7% mismatch), and VN films on NbN grown by ultra-high vacuum reactive magnetron sputtering. The initial growth mechanism was layer-by-layer for mismatch values up to 3.6%, but three-dimensional island nucleation occurred for 5.7% mismatch. Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) observations of NbN films showed three-dimensional islands, confirming the AES results. X-ray diffraction spectra from the corresponding superlattices showed strong superlattice reflections except for the large-mismatch NbN VN combination. Cross-sectional transmission electron microscopy studies showed that the superlattice layers were well-defined and planar for low mismatch, but were irregular and non-planar for NbN VN, in agreement with the X-ray, AES, and STM results. The maximum lattice mismatch for epitaxial nitride superlattice growth was thus limited by island nucleation and in the range from 3.6 to 5.7%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalSurface Science
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 20 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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