Influence of titanium oxide films on copper nucleation during electrodeposition

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Copper electrodeposition has an important industrial role because of various interconnects used in electronic devices such as printed wire boards. With an increasing trend in device miniaturization, in demand are void-free, thin copper foils of 10 μm thick or less with a very low surface profile. In accordance, nucleation kinetics of copper was studied with titanium cathodes that were covered with thin, passive oxide films of 2-3 nm. Such an insulating oxide layer with a band gap of 3 eV is supposed to nearly block charge transfer from the cathode to the electrolyte. However, significant nucleation rates of copper were observed. Pipe tunneling mechanism along a dislocation core is reasoned to account for the high nucleation kinetics. A dislocation core is proposed to be a high electron tunneling path with a reduced energy barrier and a reduced barrier thickness. In supporting the pipe tunneling mechanism, both 'in situ' and 'ex situ' scratch tests were performed to introduce extra dislocations into the cathode surface, that is, more high charge paths via tunneling, before electrodeposition. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Materials Science and Engineering A