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Metal compounds and complexes are invaluable precursors for the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) of metal and non-metal thin films. In general, the precursor compounds are chosen on the basis of their relative volatility and their ability to decompose to the desired material under a suitable temperature regime. Unfortunately, many readily obtainable (commercially available) compounds are not of sufficient volatility to make them suitable for CVD applications. Thus, a prediction of the volatility of a metal-organic compounds as a function of its ligand identity and molecular structure would be desirable in order to determine the suitability of such compounds as CVD precursors. Equally important would be a method to determine the vapor pressure of a potential CVD precursor as well as its optimum temperature of sublimation.

It has been observed that for organic compounds it was determined that a rough proportionality exists between a compound’s melting point and sublimation enthalpy; however, significant deviation is observed for inorganic compounds.

Enthalpies of sublimation for metal-organic compounds have been previously determined through a variety of methods, most commonly from vapor pressure measurements using complex experimental systems such as Knudsen effusion, temperature drop microcalorimetry and, more recently, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). However, the measured values are highly dependent on the experimental procedure utilized. For example, the reported sublimation enthalpy of Al(acac) 3 ( [link] a, where M = Al, n = 3) varies from 47.3 to 126 kJ/mol.

Structure of a typical metal β-diketonate complex. (a) acetylacetonate (acac); (b) trifluoro acetylacetonate (tfac), and (c) hexafluoroacetylacetonate (hfac).

Thermogravimetric analysis offers a simple and reproducible method for the determination of the vapor pressure of a potential CVD precursor as well as its enthalpy of sublimation.

Determination of sublimation enthalpy

The enthalpy of sublimation is a quantitative measure of the volatility of a particular solid. This information is useful when considering the feasibility of a particular precursor for CVD applications. An ideal sublimation process involves no compound decomposition and only results in a solid-gas phase change, i.e., [link] .

Since phase changes are thermodynamic processes following zero-order kinetics, the evaporation rate or rate of mass loss by sublimation (m sub ), at a constant temperature (T), is constant at a given temperature, [link] . Therefore, the m sub values may be directly determined from the linear mass loss of the TGA data in isothermal regions.

The thermogravimetric and differential thermal analysis of the compound under study is performed to determine the temperature of sublimation and thermal events such as melting. [link] shows a typical TG/DTA plot for a gallium chalcogenide cubane compound ( [link] ).

A typical thermogravimetric/differential thermal analysis (TG/DTA) analysis of [(EtMe 2 C)GaSe] 4 , whose structure is shown in [link] . Adapted from E. G. Gillan, S. G. Bott, and A. R. Barron, Chem. Mater., 1997, 9 , 3, 796.

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Source:  OpenStax, Chemistry of electronic materials. OpenStax CNX. Aug 09, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10719/1.9
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