Low-thermal-budget solution processing of thin films of zinc ferrite and other complex oxides

Ranajit Sai, Suresh D. Kulkarni, K. J. Vinoy, Navakanta Bhat, S. A. Shivashankar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Citations (Scopus)


Further miniaturization of magnetic and electronic devices demands thin films of advanced nanomaterials with unique properties. Spinel ferrites have been studied extensively owing to their interesting magnetic and electrical properties coupled with stability against oxidation. Being an important ferrospinel, zinc ferrite has wide applications in the biological (MRI) and electronics (RF-CMOS) arenas. The performance of an oxide like ZnFe 2O4 depends on stoichiometry (defect structure), and technological applications require thin films of high density, low porosity and controlled microstructure, which depend on the preparation process. While there are many methods for the synthesis of polycrystalline ZnFe2O 4 powder, few methods exist for the deposition of its thin films, where prolonged processing at elevated temperature is not required. We report a novel, microwave-assisted, low temperature (<100°C) deposition process that is conducted in the liquid medium, developed for obtaining high quality, polycrystalline ZnFe2O4 thin films on technologically important substrates like Si(100). An environment-friendly solvent (ethanol) and non-hazardous oxide precursors (β-diketonates of Zn and Fe in 1:2 molar ratio), forming a solution together, is subjected to irradiation in a domestic microwave oven (2.45 GHz) for a few minutes, leading to reactions which result in the deposition of ZnFe2O4 films on Si (100) substrates suspended in the solution. Selected surfactants added to the reactant solution in optimum concentration can be used to control film microstructure. The nominal temperature of the irradiated solution, i.e., film deposition temperature, seldom exceeds 100°C, thus sharply lowering the thermal budget. Surface roughness and uniformity of large area depositions (50×50 mm2) are controlled by tweaking the concentration of the mother solution. Thickness of the films thus grown on Si (100) within 5 min of microwave irradiation can be as high as several microns. The present process, not requiring a vacuum system, carries a very low thermal budget and, together with a proper choice of solvents, is compatible with CMOS integration. This novel solution-based process for depositing highly resistive, adherent, smooth ferrimagnetic films on Si (100) is promising to RF engineers for the fabrication of passive circuit components. It is readily extended to a wide variety of functional oxide films.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSolution Processing of Inorganic and Hybrid Materials for Electronics and Photonics
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Event2011 MRS Fall Meeting - Boston, MA, United States
Duration: 2011 Nov 282012 Dec 2

Publication series

NameMaterials Research Society Symposium Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0272-9172


Other2011 MRS Fall Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBoston, MA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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