Ferroelectric films can display a wide range of dielectric, ferroelectric, piezoelectric, electrostrictive, and pyroelectric properties. The potential utilization of these properties in a new generation of devices has driven the intensive studies on the synthesis, characterization, and determination of processing-microstructure-property relationships of ferroelectric thin films during the last five years. In addition there has been an increased drive for integrating ferroelectric film-based heterostructures with different substrate materials to demonstrate numerous devices that exploit the dielectric, ferroelectric, piezoelectric, electrostrictive, and pyroelectric properties of these materials. For example the high dielectric permittivities of perovskite-type materials can be advantageously used in dynamic random-access memories (DRAMs), while the large values of switchable remanent polarization of ferroelectric materials are suitable for nonvolatile ferroelectric random-access memories (NVFRAMs).
Various vapor-phase deposition techniques such as plasma and ion-beam sputter deposition (PSD and IBSD, respectively), pulsed laser-ablation deposition (PLAD), electron-beam or oven-induced evaporation for molecular-beam epitaxy (MBE), and chemical vapor deposition (CVD) have been applied to produce ferroelectric films and layered heterostructures. See References 4–7 for recent reviews. However, work is still necessary to optimize the techniques to produce device-quality films on large semiconductor substrates in a way that is fully compatible with existing semiconductor process technology. Therefore research efforts should be focused on the optimization of suitable process methods and on the investigation of processing-composition-microstructure property relationships. These efforts are the focus of this article with emphasis on PSD and IBSD techniques.