Exploring grain size as a cause for dead-layer effects in thin film capacitors

L.J. Sinnamon, Mohamed Saad, Robert Bowman, Marty Gregg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)


Pulsed laser deposition was used to make a series of Au/Ba0.5Sr0.5TiO3 (BST)/SrRuO3/MgO thin film capacitors with dielectric thickness ranging from similar to15 nm to similar to1 mum. Surface grain size of the dielectric was monitored as a function of thickness using both atomic force microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. Grain size data were considered in conjunction with low field dielectric constant measurements. It was observed that the grain size decreased with decreasing thickness in a manner similar to the dielectric constant. Simple models were developed in which a functionally inferior layer at the grain boundary was considered as responsible for the observed dielectric behavior. If a purely columnar microstructure was assumed, then constant thickness grain-boundary dead layers could indeed reproduce the series capacitor dielectric response observed, even though such layers would contribute electrically in parallel with unaffected bulk- like BST. Best fits indicated that the dead layers would have a relative dielectric constant similar to40, and thickness of the order of tens of nanometers. For microstructures that were not purely columnar, models did not reproduce the observed dielectric behavior well. However, cross-sectional transmission electron microscopy indicated columnar microstructure, suggesting that grain boundary dead layers should be considered seriously in the overall dead-layer debate. (C) 2002 American Institute of Physics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-705
Number of pages3
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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