Effect of dead layers on the ferroelectric property of ultrathin HfZrOx film

Applied Physics Letters, Volume 117, Issue 25, December 2020. In this study, we investigate the effects of various electrodes on the ferroelectric properties of ultrathin HfZrOx (HZO) films. The ferroelectric polarization is totally suppressed in the HZO films with TiN and W bottom electrodes when the film thickness is below 5 nm. These results can be attributed to the formation of a dead layer at the bottom electrode/HZO interface during the atomic layer deposition (ALD) and annealing processes. On the other hand, the HZO film with a Pt bottom electrode shows an excellent P–E loop with a very high switchable polarization (2Pr) of 42.5 μC/cm2 even at a film thickness of 2.5 nm. Through the short pulse switching technique, we confirm the formation of a thick dead layer in the HZO films with TiN and W electrodes, which inhibits the formation of the orthorhombic phase in these ultrathin HZO films. This implies that the ferroelectric property of ultrathin HZO films can be improved by choosing an appropriate electrode material capable of suppress ing the formation of a dead layer.