The recent rise in the market for consumer electronics has fueled extensive research in the field of display. Thin-Film Transistors (TFTs) are used as active matrix switching devices for flat panel displays such as LCD and OLED. The following investigation involves an amorphous metal-oxide semiconductor that has the potential for improved performance over current technology, while maintaining high manufacturability. Indium-Gallium-Zinc-Oxide (IGZO) is a semiconductor material which is at the onset of commercialization. The low-temperature large-area deposition compatibility of IGZO makes it an attractive technology from a manufacturing standpoint, with an electron mobility that is 10 times higher than current amorphous silicon technology. The stability of IGZO TFTs continues to be a challenge due to the presence of defect states and problems associated with interface passivation.
The goal of this dissertation is to further the understanding of the role of defect states in IGZO, and investigate materials and processes needed to regulate defects to the level at which the associated influence on device operation is controlled. The relationships between processes associated with IGZO TFT operation including IGZO sputter deposition, annealing conditions and back-channel passivation are established through process experimentation, materials analysis, electrical characterization, and modeling of electronic properties and transistor behavior. Each of these components has been essential in formulating and testing several hypotheses on the mechanisms involved, and directing efforts towards achieving the goal. Key accomplishments and quantified results are summarized as follows:
• XPS analysis identified differences in oxygen vacancies in samples before and after oxidizing ambient annealing at 400 °C, showing a drop in relative integrated area of the O 1s peak from 32% to 19%, which experimentally translates to over a thousand fold decrease in the channel free electron concentration.
• Transport behavior at cryogenic temperatures identified variable range hopping as the electron transport mechanism at temperature below 130 K, whereas at temperature greater than 130 K, the current vs temperature response followed an Arrhenius relationship consistent with extended state transport.
• Refinement of an IGZO material model for TCAD simulation, which consists of oxygen vacancy donors providing an integrated space charge concentration NVO = +5e15 cm-3, and acceptor-like band-tail states with a total integrated ionized concentration of NTA = -2e18 cm-3. An intrinsic electron mobility was established to be Un = 12.7 cm2/V∙s.
• A SPICE-compatible 2D on-state operation model for IGZO TFTs has been developed which includes the integration of drain-impressed deionization of band-tail states and results in a 2D modification of free channel charge. The model provides an exceptional match to measured data and TCAD simulation, with model parameters for channel mobility (Uch = 12 cm2/V∙s) and threshold voltage (VT = 0.14 V) having a close match to TCAD analogs.
• TCAD material and device models for bottom-gate and double-gate TFT configurations have been developed which depict the role of defect states on device operation, as well as provide insight and support of a presented hypothesis on DIBL like device behavior associated with back-channel interface trap inhomogeneity. This phenomenon has been named Trap Associated Barrier Lowering (TABL).
• A process integration scheme has been developed that includes IGZO back-channel passivation with PECVD SiO2, furnace annealing in O2 at 400 °C, and a thin capping layer of alumina deposited via atomic layer deposition. This process supports device stability when subjected to negative and positive bias stress conditions, and thermal stability up to 140 °C. It also enables TFT operation at short channel lengths (Leff ~ 3 µm) with steep subthreshold characteristics (SS ~ 120 mV/dec).
The details of these contributions in the interpretation and regulation of electronic defect states in IGZO TFTs is presented, along with the support of device characteristics that are among the best reported in the literature. Additional material on a complementary technology which utilizes flash-lamp annealing of amorphous silicon will also be described. Flash-Lamp Annealed Polycrystalline Silicon (FLAPS) has realized n-channel and p-channel TFTs with promising results, and may provide an option for future applications with the highest performance demands. IGZO is rapidly emerging as the candidate to replace a-Si:H and address the performance needs of display products produced by large panel manufacturing.
Microsystems Engineering (Ph.D.)
Department, Program, or Center
Microsystems Engineering (KGCOE)
Bruce W Smith
Mudgal, Tarun, "Interpretation and Regulation of Electronic Defects in IGZO TFTs Through Materials & Processes" (2017). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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