Structure, electronic properties, and oxygen incorporation/diffusion characteristics of the Σ 5 TiN(310) tilt grain boundary
First principles calculations are employed to investigate the structure, electronic properties, and oxygen incorporation/diffusion characteristics of the Σ 5 TiN(310) tilt grain boundary with relevance to applications of polycrystalline TiN in microelectronics and protective coatings. We show that the grain boundary does not significantly modify electronic states near the Fermi energy but does induce an upward shift of up to 0.6 eV in a number of deeper occupied bands. We also show that oxygen is preferentially incorporated into the TiN grain boundary (GB) but must overcome relatively high activation energies for further diffusion. These predictions are consistent with the "stuffed barrier model" proposed to explain the good barrier characteristics of TiN. We also show that while the oxidizing power of TiN GBs is not sufficient to reduce HfO2 (a prototypical gate dielectric material), they can act as a scavenger for interstitial oxygen. Altogether, these results provide the much needed atomistic insights into the properties of a model GB in TiN and suggest a number of directions for future investigation.