Stability and effect of annealing on the optical properties of plasma-deposited Ta2O5 and Nb2O5 films

J. P. Masse, H. Szymanowski, O. Zabeida, A. Amassian, J. E. Klemberg-Sapieha, L. Martinu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


Tantalum and niobium oxide optical thin films were prepared at room temperature by plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition using tantalum and niobium pentaethoxide (M(OC2H5)5) precursors. We studied the evolution of their optical and microstructural properties as a result of annealing over a broad temperature range from room temperature up to 900 °C. The as-deposited films were amorphous; their refractive index, n, and extinction coefficient, k, at 550 nm were n = 2.13 and k < 10- 4 for Ta2O5, and n = 2.24 and k < 10- 4 for Nb2O5. The films contained a small amount of residual carbon (∼ 2-6 at.%) bonded mostly to oxygen. During annealing, the onset of crystallization was observed at approximately TC1 = 650 °C for Ta2O5 and at TC1 = 450 °C for Nb2O5. Upon annealing close to T1 (300 °C for Nb2O5 and 400 °C for Ta2O5), n at 550 nm decreased by less than 1%. This was correlated with the decrease of carbon content, as suggested by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, elastic recoil detection and static secondary ion mass spectroscopy (SIMS) results. During annealing, we observed phase transition from the δ- (hexagonal) phase to the L- (orthorhombic) phase between 800 °C and 900 °C for Ta2O5, and between 600 °C and 700 °C for Nb2O5. The structural changes were also marked by silicon diffusion from the substrate into the oxide layer at annealing temperatures above 500 °C for Ta2O5 and above 400 °C for Nb2O5. As a consequence of oxygen, silicon and metal interdiffusion, the interface between the Si substrate and the metal oxide (Ta2O5 or Nb2O5) is characterized by its broadening, well documented by spectroscopic ellipsometry and SIMS data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1674-1682
Number of pages9
JournalThin Solid Films
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 5 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Ellipsometry
  • Niobium oxide
  • Optical properties
  • Phase transitions
  • Plasma processing and deposition
  • Tantalum oxide
  • X-ray diffraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry


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