ZrC thin films were grown on Si substrates by the pulsed laser deposition (PLD) technique. X- ray photoelectron spectroscopy, x-ray diffraction and reflectivity, variable angle spectroscopic ellipsometry, and four point probe measurements were used to investigate the composition, density, thickness, surface morphology, optical and electrical properties of the grown structures. It has been found that crystalline films could be grown only by using fluences above 6 J/cm2 and substrate temperatures in excess of 500 °C. For a fluence of 10 J/cm2 and a substrate temperature of 700 °C, highly (100)-textured ZrC films exhibiting a cubic structure (a=0.469 nm) and a density of 6.7 g/cm3 were deposited. The use of a low-pressure atmosphere of C2H2 had a beneficial effect on crystallinity and stoichiometry of the films. All films contained high levels of oxygen contamination, especially in the surface region, because of the rather reactive nature of Zr atoms.
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