The reaction of trialkylaluminum compounds with ammonia has been examined as a potential route to high purity AlN powder and to AlN thin films. This reaction proceeds in stages in which the initially formed Lewis acid/base adduct undergoes thermal decomposition to a series of intermediate alkylaluminum-amide and -imide species with increasing Al-N bonding, i.e.,
The structure and properties of several of these species have been studied using various physical and chemical methods, leading to a better understanding of the chemistry of this novel AlN precursor system. The structure of the intermediate organoaluminum amide, (CH3)2AlNH2, has been determined by single crystal X-ray diffraction methods and found to contain molecular trimer units with a six-membered Al-N ring structure similar to those which make up the wurzite structure of AlN. This compound is readily volatile and has been used to deposit AIN thin films on Si surfaces by a low-pressure CVD process. This approach has also been used to prepare AlN as a high surface area, high purity powder.