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Defect Inspection of ALD/MLD-Based Barrier Coatings
Keywords: Atomic Layer Deposition, Barrier Coating, Defect Inspection
Atomic layer deposition (ALD) has been widely used in a variety of applications such as high-k gate dielectrics, gas diffusion barrier, antireflection coatings, MEMS, functional nano-structures and devices, and surface functionalization. For all of these applications, knowledge about the densities and locations of defects in ALD films is needed to evaluate the quality of the films and optimize the deposition process and material system. This information is especially important for gas diffusion barriers to encapsulate organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs). Defects in the barrier coatings allow the leakage of reactive species that lead to the device degradation or failure. Despite the importance of defects in ALD coatings, direct characterization of large area ALD coatings using conventional optical- or electronic microscopy is impractical due to their extreme thinness, transparency and homogeneity. In this study, we have demonstrated the electroplating decoration and fluorescent tagging techniques to render the defects visible in Al2O3 ALD barrier coatings grown on various substrates, allowing fast inspection of the defect densities and locations in single-layer ALD barrier coatings. For multilayer barrier coatings fabricated using atomic layer deposition (ALD) and molecular layer deposition (MLD) processes, confocal laser scanning microscope (CLSM) was applied to inspect the buried defects in ALD layers with top coatings. These techniques provide practical solutions for rapid inspection of large area barrier coatings for organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), photovoltaic (PV), and liquid crystal display (LCD) encapsulation as well as the packaging of: medical devices, sensor skins, electronic circuits, micro- , and nano-systems.
Yadong Zhang, Research Assistant
University of Colorado at Boulder
Boulder, CO


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