The feasibility of fabricating ultra-thin SiO2 films on the order of a few nanometer thickness has been demonstrated. SiO2 thin films of approximately 7 nm thickness have been produced by ion flux-controlled Electron Cyclotron Resonance plasma oxidation at low temperature on  Si substrates, in reproducible fashion. Electrical measurements of these films indicate that they have characteristics comparable to those of thermally grown oxides. The thickness of the films was determined by ellipsometry, and further confirmed by crosssectional High-Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy. Comparison between the ECR and the thermal oxide films shows that the ECR films are uniform and continuous over at least a few microns in lateral direction, similar to the thermal oxide films grown at comparable thickness. In addition, HRTEM images reveal a thin (1–.5 nm) crystalline interfacial layer between the ECR film and the  substrate. Thinner oxide films of approximately 5 nm thickness have also been attemped, but so far have resulted in nonuniform coverage. Reproducibility at this thickness is difficult to achieve.
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This work was supported by the Director, Office of Energy Research, Office of Basic Sciences, Materials Sciences Division, of the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC03-76SF00098 and by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, of the U.S. Department of Defense under Contract No. F49620-87-K-0001. D.A. Carl, D.W. Hess, and M.A. Lieberman also acknowledge the support from National Science Foundation Grants No. ECS-8517363 and No. ENG-8710988, Department of Energy Grant No. DE-FG03-87ER13727, and a contract from IBM Gerenal Technology Division, Burlington, VT.
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Nguyen, T.D., Carl, D.A., Hess, D.W. et al. Structural and Interfacial Characteristics of thin (<10 nm) SiO2 Films Grown by Electron Cyclotron Resonance Plasma Oxidation on  Si Substrates. MRS Online Proceedings Library 223, 75 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-223-75