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Title: The properties and performance of moisture/oxygen barrier layers deposited by remote plasma sputtering
Author: Brown, Hayley L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5918 561X
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2015
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The development of flexible lightweight OLED devices requires oxygen/moisture barrier layer thin films with water vapour transmission rates (WVTR) of < 10-6 g/m2/day. This thesis reports on single and multilayer architecture barrier layers (mostly based on SiO2, Al2O3 and TiO2) deposited onto glass, Si and polymeric substrates using remote plasma sputtering. The reactive sputtering depositions were performed on Plasma Quest S500 based sputter systems and the morphology, nanostructure and composition of the coatings have been examined using SEM, EDX, STEM, XPS, XRD and AFM. The WVTR has been determined using industry standard techniques (e.g. MOCON) but, for rapid screening of the deposited layers, an in-house permeation test was also developed. SEM, XRD and STEM results showed that the coatings exhibited a dense, amorphous structure with no evidence of columnar growth. However, all of the single and multilayer coatings exhibited relatively poor WVTRs of > 1 x 10-1 g/m2/day at 38 °C and 85 % RH. Further characterisation indicated that the barrier films were failing due to the presence of substrate asperities and airborne particulates. Different mechanisms were investigated in an attempt to reduce the density of film defects including incorporation of a getter layer, modification of growth kinetics, plasma treatment and polymer planarising, but none were successful in lowering the WVTR. Review of this issue indicated that the achievement of good barrier layers was likely to be problematic in commercial practice due to the cost implications of adequately reducing particulate density and the need to cover deliberately non-planar surfaces and fabricated 3D structures. Conformal coverage would therefore be required to bury surface structures and to mitigate particulate issues. Studies of the remote plasma system showed that it both inherently delivered an ionised physical vapour deposition (IPVD) process and was compatible with bias re-sputtering of substrates. Accordingly, a process using RF substrate bias to conformally coat surfaces was developed to encapsulate surface particulates and seal associated permeation paths. An order of magnitude improvement in WVTR (6.7 x 10-2 g/m2/day) was measured for initial Al2O3 coatings deposited with substrate bias. The development of substrate bias to enhance conformal coverage provides significant new commercial benefit. Furthermore, conformal coverage of 5:1 aspect ratio structures have been demonstrated by alternating the substrate bias between -222 V and -267 V, with a 50 % dwell time at each voltage. Further development and optimisation of the substrate bias technique is required to fully explore the potential for further improving barrier properties and conformal coverage of high aspect ratio and other 3D structures.
Supervisor: Baker, Mark A. ; Curry, R. J. ; Thwaites, M. J. ; Hockley, P. J. Sponsor: EPSRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Eng.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available