Low temperature chemical vapor deposition of superconducting vanadium nitride thin films

Elham Mohimi, Zhejun V. Zhang, Justin L. Mallek, Sumeng Liu, Brian B. Trinh, Pralav P. Shetty, Gregory S. Girolami, John R. Abelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Superconducting thin films of vanadium nitride have been grown by low temperature (250-300 °C) chemical vapor deposition from tetrakis(dimethylamido)vanadium (TDMAV) and ammonia. For example, films grown from TDMAV (1 sccm Ar as carrier gas) and 7 mTorr ammonia at 300 °C are nanocrystalline (cubic δ-phase) with an average crystal size of 20 nm, have relatively low room temperature resistivities of 250 μω cm, and are superconducting with critical temperatures as high as 7.6 K (versus a bulk value of 9 K). The films have a V:N ratio of 1:1, with a carbon content of <5 at. % and an oxygen content of <3 at. % (as determined by high resolution XPS). The V 2p3/2 and N 1 s XPS binding energies of 513.5 and 397.3 eV, respectively, are consistent with the presence of a nitride phase. In contrast, films grown at lower temperatures <200 °C show carbon incorporation, have a much higher resistivity of ∼3000 μω cm, and are not superconducting. The results suggest that, at low temperatures, the thermally activated transamination reaction with ammonia becomes too slow to remove dimethylamido groups from the surface, resulting in carbon-rich films (10-15 at. % carbon). The conformal step coverage of the VN films depends on the growth conditions. For thermal growth of nonsuperconducting films at 150 °C, the step coverage is >95% in trenches of an aspect ratio of 4:1; for superconducting films grown at 250 °C, the step coverage is 65% for an aspect ratio of 3:1. At 150 °C, near-stoichiometric films with <2 at. % carbon and <3 at. % oxygen can be deposited if the gaseous ammonia is precracked by a remote plasma source; the resulting films have low resistivities of 320 μω cm but are not superconducting down to 4 K.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number031509
JournalJournal of Vacuum Science and Technology A: Vacuum, Surfaces and Films
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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