Texture Analysis of Niobium Thin Films – Josh Spradlin – TFSRF-2010

Title: Texture Analysis of Niobium Thin Films
Author: Josh Spradlin
Institution: SRF Institute – jefferson Lab, Newport News (VA) USA
Abstract: High RRR ( > 100) Nb thin films have been frequently fabricated by energetic condensation, via both cathodic arc discharge and ECR Nb plasma method during the Jefferson Lab supported programs. The Nb thin films were deposited on single crystal sapphire (a and c-planes) and MgO on moderate substrate temperate (300C-450C).

Advanced X-ray Diffraction and Electron Back-scattering Diffraction (EBSD) techniques were applied to reveal crystal structures of these Nb thin films. This study particularly used Pole Figures and EBSD to visualize the Reciprocal Lattice Space of the Nb thin films. These representations yielded a new understanding of the Nb thin films, such as the materials crystal texture in two probing depth: 50nm (in the range of SRF London penetration depth) by EBSD, and 2 micron in depth via XRD (covering the Nb/sapphire interface and entire thin films).

Variants of crystal structural symmetries were observed in the pole figures. We assigned them to 3 (or 6) folder Rotation Symmetry or Twinning Symmetry. To confirm the Twinning symmetry, we conduct a computational fitting of the empirical PF plot. For further discussion, twelve Nb B.C.C. Twinning systems are deduced here after a crystallographic study.

By complying with the well-known rule of “Three Dimensional Registry” of Nb/sapphire epitaxy, we could rationalize the observed texture (twinning symmetry, or rotation symmetry) by referring to the Island-Growth model and substrate initiatives. Nevertheless, we witnessed a violation of the law by coating the Nb thin films on c-plane sapphire.

Phenomenological relevance of RRR and texture are presented as is. The high RRR thin films unanimously have near single-crystal-structure (no texture, only monolithic Nb (110) orientation). This provoked us to speculate that the low RRR of Nb thin films might be caused by the high-defect-density zones among the grain boundaries, which in-turn are determined by the island growth model.