Optimization of ALD grown titania thin films for the infiltration of silica photonic crystals

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Heineman, Dawn Laurel
Summers, Christopher J.
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The atomic layer deposition (ALD) growth of titania thin films was studied for the infiltration of silica photonic crystals. Titania thin films were grown in a custom-built ALD reactor by the alternating pulsing and purging of TiCl4 and water vapor. The conformal nature of ALD growth makes it an ideal candidate for the infiltration of the complex opal structure. Titania is a high refractive index material, which makes it a popular material for use in photonic crystal (PC) applications. Photonic crystals are periodic dielectric structures that forbid the propagation of light in a certain wavelength range. This forbidden range is known as the photonic band gap (PBG). A refractive index contrast of at least 2.8 is required for a complete PBG in an inverted opal structure. Therefore, the rutile structure of titania is more desirable for use in PCs due to its higher index of refraction than the anatase or brookite structure. The growth mechanisms and film properties of the TiO2 thin films were studied. Investigation of the growth mechanisms revealed saturated growth rate conditions for multiple temperature regions. Film characterization techniques included XRD, SEM/EDS, XPS, AFM, reflectivity, and index of refraction measurements. Post growth heat treatment was performed to study the conversion from the as-deposited crystal structure to the rutile structure. After optimization of the deposition process, the infiltration of silica opals for PC applications was attempted. The filling fraction was optimized by increasing the pulse and purge lengths at a deposition temperature of 100oC. Although the silica opals were successfully infiltrated using ALD of TiO2, the long range order of the PC was destroyed after the heat treatment step required to achieve the high index rutile structure.
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