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Surface and Interfacial Topography of Oxides on Si(111) With Ultra-Low Atomic Step Density

  • Antonio C. Oliver (a1) and Jack M. Blakely (a1)

Abstract

Atomic force microscopy has been used to study the morphology of the oxide surface and the Si-SiO2 interface after oxidation of Si(111) surfaces that are either totally free of atomic steps or have well characterized low step density. The step-free areas were formed by thermally processing a patterned Si surface in which flat areas are enclosed by a square array of ridges; flow of the atomic steps into the surrounding ridge barriers produces a regular array of step-free areas each of which can be up to ∼50µm×50µm. Arrays of widely spaced steps (e.g. 5µm) can also be produced in the step-free areas. AFM scans of the same areas were taken prior to (dry) oxidation, after oxidation, and after chemical removal of the oxide. It was found that at an oxide thickness in the 5-13nm range, the initial step structure of the underlying Si substrates is translated through the oxide to the surface after oxidation with the oxide surface being somewhat rougher than the initial substrate. Furthermore, the initial step morphology of the substrate remains at the Si-SiO2 interface after etching away the oxide by HF. The interface roughness is less than that of the oxide surface. The results suggest that the initial oxidation of silicon proceeds in a ‘layer by layer’ manner and not through a preferential step-flow oxide growth mode.

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Surface and Interfacial Topography of Oxides on Si(111) With Ultra-Low Atomic Step Density

  • Antonio C. Oliver (a1) and Jack M. Blakely (a1)

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