PES 449 / PHYS 549        Spring 2000

Physics of Thin Films

Professor/office hours

course syllabus

textbook and reserve books

grading standards

Lecture notes

other thin film links

Course Syllabus and Information

This course is designed to provide an introduction to the physics and methods used in the production and characterization of thin films. We will examine what thin films are, their important properties, how they are produced, and how we can characterize them.

Tentative schedule (subject to revision)

Topic area
sections in Ohring

Physics of Thin Films

Jan 19


Overview of film growth: techniques and physics.

1.1 - 1.4

Jan 24


Solid State Physics - crystal structure and defects, packing arrangements, close packed planes, thermodynamic vacancy concentration

Jan 26


Thermodynamics - change in free energy,Ellingham diagrams


Jan 31


Thermodynamics - phase diagrams:one component, triple point, binary solid solution,binary eutectic


Feb 2


Kinetics - Fick's Laws, Diffusion coef, Arrhenius

1.6, 8.1 - 8.2

Feb 7, 9


Nucleation and Growth: Homogeneous nucleation, critical radius, nucleation rate

1.7 - 1.8

Feb 9, 14

Film formation

Introduction, Trapping, Capillarity model (heterogeneous nucleation)

5.1 - 5.3

Feb 14, 16

Film formation

Growth modes, island growth, zone models, columnar growth

5.4 - 5.6

Feb 21


plasma physics

Feb. 23

Film formation

Summary - Deposition parameters and their effects on film growth


Film Deposition

Feb 28

Basic Vacuum

kinetic theory of gasses, flow, substrates, cleaning


March 1


basic steps, point vs. surface sources purity, hardware

3.1 - 3.4

March 6


sputter yield, alloys, heating

3.5 - 3.6

March 8


methods: dc, RF, magnetron, reactive, ion assisted, ion sources, ion etching

3.7 - 3.8

March 13


epitaxial films, misfit, strain

Ch. 7

March 15


reaction types, boundaries and flow

4.1 - 4.5

March 20





March 22

Other deposition techniques

March 27 - 31


Film Characterization

April 3



Ch. 6

April 5


imaging techniques

Ch. 6

April 10


imaging techniques

Ch. 6

April 12


structural techniques

Ch. 6

April 17


structural techniques

Ch. 6

April 19


chemical techniques

Ch. 6

April 24


chemical techniques

Ch. 6

April 26


optical techniques

Ch. 6

May 1


electro/magnetic techniques

Ch. 6

Properties of Thin Films

Optical properties

n,k : metals, dielectrics, semiconductors; optics of transparent films, multiple coatings, effective medium theory

Ch. 11

Electrical and magnetic properties

resistance/resistivity- metals, insulators - models, discontinuous films

Hall effect complications, magnetoresistance, magnetic properties

Ch. 10

Mechanical properties

Stoney formula, thermal stress, relaxation

Ch. 9

other properties

May 3

student presentations


May 8

student presentations

May 10

student presentations


Text: "The Materials Science of Thin Films"

M. Ohring, 1992

We will cover parts of Chapters 1 -11 in the text - but not in order.


Library Reserve materials (3 day check out):

  • Eckertova, L. "Physics of Thin Films"
  • Chapman, B.N. and J.C. Anderson "Science and Technology of Surface Coating"


articles: (Collected in one folder):


  • V. Comello "RGAs Provide Real Time Process Control" Semiconductor International p. 71, Sept. 1990.
  • P. H. Singer "Today's Changing Vacuum Requirements" Semiconductor International p. 59, Sept. 1990.


  • R. F. Bunshah and C. V. Deshpandey "Evaporation Processes" MRS Bulletin p. 33, Dec. 1988.
  • W. D. Westwood "Sputter Deposition Processes" MRS Bulletin p. 46, Dec. 1988.
  • P. Harris "Taking the Lead in Electron-beam Deposition" Vacuum & ThinFilm, Feb. 1999, p. 26.
  • B. Heinz "Sputter Target and Thin Film Defects" Vacuum & ThinFilm, October 1999, p. 22.
  • G. S. Bales et al., "Growth and Erosion of Thin Solid Films", Science, 249, 264 (1990).
  • C. R. M. Grovenor, H. T. G. Hentzell and D. A. Smith, "The Development of Grain Structure During Growth of Metallic Films" Acta Metallurgica 32, 773 (1984).
  • * L. A. Stelmack, C. T. Thurman and G. R. Thompson "Review of Ion-assisted Deposition: Research to Production", Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B, 37/38, 787 (1989).
  • J. M. Bennett "When is a surface clean ?" p. 29 in Optics and Photonics News, June, 1990.
  • H. M. Layton "Ultrasonic Cleaning for Semiconductor Wafer Processing" Microelectronic Manufacturing and Testing Jan. 1983.
  • P. J. Martin and D. R. McKenzie, "Make Clean, Dense Films with a Filtered Process", R+D Magazine, October 1990, p. 108.


  • D. E. Aspnes "The Accurate Determination of Optical Properties by Ellipsometry" p. 89 in Handbook of Optical Constants of Solids, E. D. Palik, ed.
  • R. E. Honig "Surface and Thin Film Analysis of Semiconductor Materials" Thin Solid Films 31, 89 (1976).
  • S. Fitzgerald "Analysis of Thin Films and Surfaces", Microscopy and Analysis, July 1995, p. 23.
  • L. J. Whitman, J. A. Stroscio, R. A. Dragoset, and R. J. Celotta "Manipulation of Adsorbed Atoms and Creation of New Structures on Room-Temperature Surfaces with a Scanning Tunneling Microscope", Science, 251, 1206 (1991).
  • E. Paparazzo, "Applications of Scanning Auger Microscopy to the Analysis of Materials", Microscopy and Analysis, Nov. 1994, p. 9.

Other books which may be of interest (not on reserve):

  • Weissler, G. L. and R.W. Carlson "Methods of Experimental Physics" Vol 14. "Vacuum Physics and Technology"
  • O'Hanlon, J. F. "A User's Guide to Vacuum Technology" (John Wiley and Sons, 1989)
  • Roth, A. "Vacuum Technology" (North-Holland, 1990)
  • Delchar, T. A. "Vacuum Physics and Techniques" (Chapman and Hall, 1993)


  • Chapman, B.N. and J.C. Anderson "Science and Technology of Surface Coating"
  • J. Y. Tsao, "Materials Fundamentals of Molecular Beam Epitaxy" (Academic Press, 1993)
  • J. P Hirth and G. M. Pound "Evaporation: Nucleation and Growth Kinetics" (Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1963).
  • L. Holland "Vacuum Deposition of Thin Films" (John Wiley and Sons Inc., NY, 1956).


  • Ertl, G. and J. Kuppers "Low Energy Electrons and Surface Chemistry"
  • J. M. Walls, ed. "Methods of Surface Analysis" (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1989).
  • D. Briggs and M. P. Seah, eds. "Practical Surface Analysis by Auger and X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy" (John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1983).

    general references:

  • O. S. Heavens "Thin Film Physics" (Methuen & Co., Ltd., London, 1970).
  • L. I. Maissel and R. Glang, eds. "Handbook of Thin Film Technology" (McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1970).
  • J. L. Vossen and W. Kern "Thin Film Processes" (Academic Press, Inc., Orlando,1978).
  • A. Zangwill, "Physics at Surfaces" (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1988).
  • O. S. Heavens "Optical Properties of Thin Solid Films" (Dover Publications, New York, 1991).
  • Wagendristel and Wang "An Introduction to Physics and Technology of Thin Films" (World Scientific, 1994).
  • E. A. Machlin "Materials Science in Microelectronics vol. 1: The Relationships between Thin Film Processing and Structure" (Giro Press 1995).
  • E. A. Machlin "Materials Science in Microelectronics vol. 1: The Effects of Structure on Properties in Thin Films" (Giro Press 1998).
  • K. Chopra, "Thin Film Phenomena", (McGraw-Hill, 1969).
  • K.-N. Tu, J. W. Mayer, and L. C. Feldman, "Electronic Thin Film Science" (Prentice Hall, 1992).


The course grade will be determined approximately as follows:

homework sets (4 - 6)


exams (2-3)

40 %

critical review of paper

10 %

final project (Due May 3)

20 %

Students are also accountable for the "General Information" section of the current "Schedule of Courses" which discusses the Honor Code, student rights and responsibilities, and other issues.

Reasonable accommodation: Students with a disability who require accommodations must provide a letter of accommodation from Student Enrichment Services (CH 104, x3354) within the first two weeks of the semester or as soon as possible.

All information on this page is subject to change. Changes will be announced in class.