Molecular dynamics study of the growth of ZnOx films

K Hantova and J Houska, JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS, 132, 185304 (2022).

DOI: 10.1063/5.0106856

Crystalline zinc oxide thin films are important due to a combination of optical transparency, electrical conductivity, and piezoelectric and pyroelectric properties. These functional properties are improved with increasing perfection of the crystalline structure. In this paper, classical molecular dynamics with a reactive force field was used to simulate the atom-by-atom growth of ZnOx films on a crystalline template. Contrary to previous modeling studies, the effect of a wide range of process parameters (elemental ratio x, kinetic energy of arriving atoms, and fraction of fast atoms in the particle flux) on the film crystallinity was investigated. All the parameters were found to have a significant impact. Counterintuitively, the highest crystal quality was obtained for slightly overstoichiometric films with x > 1. The results provide a quantitative insight into the role of individual deposition parameters, and the identification of their optimum values facilitates a further improvement of the film properties.

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