In Situ Spectroscopic Ellipsometry Study of the Oxide Etching and Surface Damaging Processes on Silicon Under Hydrogen Plasma


We employed in situ ellipsometry in the monitoring of surface damage to monocrystalline silicon (Si) substrates under hydrogen plasma conditions. These measurements were complemented with spectroscopic ellipsometry and Raman spectroscopy, in order to characterize the surface conditions. It was found that heating the Si substrate to 700°C in the presence of molecular hydrogen produces etching of the native oxide layer, which is typically 10 Å thick. When the already hot and bare silicon surface is submitted to hydrogen plasma, it deteriorates very fast, becoming rough and full of voids. Modeling of the spectroscopic ellipsometry data was used to obtain a quantitative physical picture of the surface damage, in terms of roughness layer t ickness and void fraction. The results indicate that by the time a thin film starts to grow on these silicon surfaces, like in the chemical vapor deposition of diamond, the roughness produced by the hydrogen plasma has already determined to a large extent the rough nature of the film to be grown.

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This work received support from the Department of Defense (DOD ONR Grant No. N00014-98-1-0570), the Department of Energy (DOE Grant No. DE-FG02-99ER45796), and the University of Puerto Rico (UPR FIPI Grant No. 880244). We also gratefully acknowledge the use of the research facilities of Dr. Ram S. Katiyar (Raman Spectroscopy), Dr. Carlos Cabrera (SEM), and Dr. Zvi Weisz (SEM) in the execution of this research work. It was also very important to count with the help and advice of Dr. Soumana Hamma from Jobin Yvon-Instruments S.A., who has put his expertise in spectroscopic ellipsometry to our service.

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Correspondence to I.M. Vargas.

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Vargas, I., Manso, J., Guzmán, J. et al. In Situ Spectroscopic Ellipsometry Study of the Oxide Etching and Surface Damaging Processes on Silicon Under Hydrogen Plasma. MRS Online Proceedings Library 591, 276–281 (1999).

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