Transmission electron microscopy study of hydrogen-induced degradation in strontium bismuth tantalate thin films

N. Poonawala, V. P. Dravid, O. Auciello*, J. Im, A. R. Krauss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The fabrication of nonvolatile ferroelectric random access memories based on SrBi2Ta2O9 (SBT) or other ferroelectric capacitors require exposure of these capacitors to processing gases mixtures including hydrogen. This results in a strong degradation of the capacitor electrical properties, mainly due to the interaction of hydrogen with the ferroelectric layer. Using surface analysis methods, we previously determined that the hydrogen-induced degradation of SBT capacitors might be partially due to the degradation of the near surface region of the SBT layer. It was also demonstrated that oxygen annealing after the hydrogen exposure results in the recovery of the degraded SBT surface layer and the electrical properties of the capacitor. We have now performed detailed cross sectional transmission electron microscopy studies of virgin, hydrogen, and oxygen annealed SBT/Pt/TiO2/SiO2/Si heterostructures. These studies combined microstructural imaging with a nanoscale compositional analysis of the SBT layer as a function of depth from the free surface of the film and across grain boundaries. High resolution energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy revealed that hydrogen annealed SBT layers have a deficiency of Bi up to a depth of ∼30 nm underneath the free surface, and that there is accumulation of Bi at the grain boundaries of pristine, hydrogen, and oxygen-recovery annealed SBT layers. This suggests that the diffusion of Bi is largely controlled by grain boundaries and they play a critical role in controlling the electrical properties of SBT capacitors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2227-2231
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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