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Electric Field Stiffening Effect in c‑Oriented Aluminum Nitride Piezoelectric Thin Films

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-12-20, 00:00 authored by Cong Chen, Zhengguo Shang, Jia Gong, Feng Zhang, Hong Zhou, Bin Tang, Yi Xu, Chi Zhang, Ya Yang, Xiaojing Mu
Aluminum nitride offers unique material advantages for the realization of ultrahigh-frequency acoustic devices attributed to its high ratio of stiffness to density, compatibility with harsh environments, and superior thermal properties. Although, to date, aluminum nitride thin films have been widely investigated regarding their electrical and mechanical characteristics under alternating small signal excitation, their ultrathin nature under large bias may also provide novel and useful properties. Here, we present a comprehensive investigation of electric field stiffening effect in c-oriented aluminum nitride piezoelectric thin films. By analyzing resonance characteristics in a 2.5 GHz aluminum nitride-based film bulk acoustic resonator, we demonstrate an up to 10% linear variation in the equivalent stiffness of aluminum nitride piezoelectric thin films when an electric field was applied from −150 to 150 MV/m along the c-axis. Moreover, for the first time, an atomic interaction mechanism is proposed to reveal the nature of electric field stiffening effect, suggesting that the nonlinear variation of the interatomic force induced by electric field modulation is the intrinsic reason for this phenomenon in aluminum nitride piezoelectric thin films. Our work provides vital experimental data and effective theoretical foundation for electric field stiffening effect in aluminum nitride piezoelectric thin films, indicating the huge potential in tunable ultrahigh-frequency microwave devices.