Jul 17, 2019

Role of geometric parameters in electrical measurements of insulating thin films deposited on a conductive substrate

The effects of film thickness, electrode size and substrate thickness on the impedance parameters of alternating frequency dielectric measurements of insulating thin films deposited on conductive substrates were studied through parametric finite-element simulations. The quasi-static forms of Maxwell's electromagnetic equations in a time harmonic mode were solved using COMSOL Multiphysics® for several types of 2D models (linear and axisymmetric). The full 2D model deals with a configuration in which the impedance is measured between two surface electrodes on top of a film deposited on a conductive substrate. For the simplified 2D models, the conductive substrate is ignored and the two electrodes are placed on the top and bottom of the film. By comparing the full model and the simplified models, approximations and generalizations are deduced. For highly insulating films, such as the case of insulating SiO2 films on a conducting Si substrate, even the simplified models predict accurate capacitance values at all frequencies. However, the edge effects on the capacitance are found to be significant when the film thickness increases and/or the top electrode contact size decreases. The thickness of the substrate affects predominantly the resistive components of the dielectric response while having no significant effect on the capacitive components. Changing the electrode contact size or the film thickness determines the specific values of the measured resistance or capacitance while the material time constant remains the same, and thus this affects the frequency dependence that is able to be detected. This work highlights the importance of keeping in mind the film thickness and electrode contact size for the correct interpretation of the measured dielectric properties of micro/nanoscale structures that are often investigated using nanoscale capacitance measurements.


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