Atomically flat surfaces can be obtained by high-temperature annealing in UHV of specially patterned silicon samples. Thin silicon oxide layers were grown by dry oxidation on three types of surfaces: (a) atomically flat surfaces, (b) normal (stepped) surfaces cleaned in UHV by the same high-temperature annealing and (c) normal wafer surfaces, which underwent just an RCA chemical cleaning before oxidation. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) was performed to reveal the topography of the surfaces. Aluminum pads were deposited on these oxidized surfaces using photolithography techniques. The leakage current through the oxide was measured for all three cases. Our results show that the smoother the surface before oxidation, the smaller the leakage current.
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This work benefits greatly from the expertise and processes available at CNF and is supported by NSF grant no. DMR-0109641. We would like to thank Prof. Tiwari and his graduate students Helena G. Silva, Sang K. Kim and Ali G. Gokirmak for their help with electrical measurements.
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Ignatescu, V., Blakely, J.M. Leakage Currents through Thin Silicon Oxide Grown on Atomically Flat Silicon Surfaces. MRS Online Proceedings Library 849, 13–18 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-849-KK7.11