This article discusses the results of transmission electron microscopy (TEM)-based characterization of strontium-doped lead zirconate titanate (PSZT) thin films. The thin films were deposited by radio frequency magnetron sputtering at 300°C on gold-coated silicon substrates, which used a 15 nm titanium adhesion layer between the 150 nm thick gold film and (100) silicon. The TEM analysis was carried out using a combination of high-resolution imaging, energy filtered imaging, energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) analysis, and hollow cone illumination. At the interface between the PSZT films and gold, an amorphous silicon-rich layer (about 4 nm thick) was observed, with the film composition remaining uniform otherwise. The films were found to be polycrystalline with a columnar structure perpendicular to the substrate. Interdiffusion between the bottom metal layers and silicon was observed and was confirmed using secondary ion mass spectrometry. This occurs due to the temperature of deposition (300°C) being close to the eutectic point of gold and silicon (363°C). The diffused regions in silicon were composed primarily of gold (analyzed by EDX) and were bounded by (111) silicon planes, highlighted by the triangular diffused regions observed in the two-dimensional TEM image.
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