Junta de Andalucía
Code: P09-FQM-6900 (Proyecto de Excelencia)
Project PLASMATER aims at developing new plasma-based procedures to control the nanostructure, porosity and morphology of deposited thin films, and optimize the material functionalities and applications. From an experimental point of view, plasma-assisted thin film deposition techniques make use of various quantities to define the deposition conditions, such as the electromagnetic power, pressure in the reactor, etc. These quantities controls the plasma properties, which at the same time conditions the growth mechanism of the films. The complexity of the relation between experimentally controllable quantities and growth processes has produced the existence of empirical relations between experimental conditions and final film structure and composition, whose justification from a fundamental point of view is unclear.
In PLASMATER we propose to analyze three related aspects of the deposition of TiO2 and ZnO thin films assisted by plasmas: i) complete diagnosis of the plasma bulk and sheath in connection with the material microstructure, ii) functionality of the material, and iii) the de-velopment of predictive numerical codes that calculate the final film microstructure as a func-tion of experimentally controllable quantities. This last part is of relevance because to our knowledge, i) it is the first time in the literature the deposition is fully characterized from a fundamental point of view, ii) this knowledge can be applied to suggest modifications in the deposition reactor in order to enhance different structural properties of the films.
In order to carry out the PLASMATER project, we aim at following at mixed theoretical and experimental strategy in order to interactively develop numerical codes of the thin film growth in multiple conditions. All the spatial scales involved in the description must be studied, from the plasma bulk itself (typically of few tens cm), the plasma sheath (below 1 mm), and the surface of the material (tens nm). Advanced diagnosis techniques will be employed to understand the plasma behavior and the film growth. Finally, PLASMATER will focus on the experimental conditions that lead to an optimized performance of the studied materials for advance applications in technology and industry.