Comprehensive characterization of ZnO thin films for surface acoustic wave applications


This paper presents a comprehensive characterization of a very smooth, c-axis oriented, highly piezoelectric and electrically resistive 2.5 µm-thick ZnO thin film deposited by a radio frequency (RF) magnetron sputtering system on SiO2/Si substrate. Thin film properties such as surface roughness, crystallography, stoichiometry, and electrical resistivity are measured. Two-port surface acoustic wave (SAW) devices with bidirectional interdigital transducer (IDT) periods of 16 µm, 20 µm and 24 µm are fabricated on top of the ZnO thin film. A detailed finite element analysis (FEA) of the thin film is elaborated by varying ZnO thickness and IDT configuration. FEA results shows that acoustic wave velocities and resonance frequencies of the SAW devices are decreasing together with increasing ZnO thickness. Frequency response of the fabricated SAW devices are measured with a vector network analyzer (VNA) and compared to FEA results. First two wave modes, namely the Rayleigh and Sezawa waves, of the fabricated SAW devices on the ZnO thin films are interrogated. Resonance frequencies of the SAW devices with wavelengths of 16 µm, 20 µm, and 24 µm are measured as 204.8 MHz, 176.3 MHz, and 155.3 MHz for the Rayleigh mode, 335.9 MHz, 275.3 MHz, and 235.1 MHz for the Sezawa mode, respectively. In addition, omnidirectional wave propagation of ZnO thin film is shown with 45° rotated IDTs. Overall, experimental results are in good agreement with simulation results, demonstrating ZnO thin film fabrication is successfully carried out, and FEA is an appropriate method for modeling SAW devices on thin films.

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Support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant No. ECCS-1349245 is gratefully acknowledged by the authors. Burak Yildirim also acknowledges the scholarship support from the Ministry of National Education of Turkey.

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Yildirim, B., Tigli, O. Comprehensive characterization of ZnO thin films for surface acoustic wave applications. J Mater Sci: Mater Electron 30, 14621–14630 (2019).

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