A method for measuring denuded zone depth from lifetime measurements is proposed and compared to observations by microscopy techniques and to Electron Beam Induced Current (EBIC) analyses. The surface photovoltage (SPV) method is chosen for measuring lifetime, as it is found to be extremely sensitive to oxygen precipitation. Samples prepared according to three typical thermal hystories are used as test vehicles.
Correlating the results given by the different techniques, this study points out a few relevant features from the point of view of wafer processing. For instance, processes starting with a low temperature treatment are poorly reproducible for what concerns oxygen precipitation and denuding, as shown by SPV data, and do not guarantee a defect-free denuded zone, as seen in EBIC images. Additional high temperature treatments during the process increase the denuded zone depth and improve uniformity.
Techniques which rely on a selective etching for defect detection, such as the Secondary Electron method of Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), are limited by etching sensitivy. On the other hand, the Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) statistics is too poor for this sort of observations. Instead, as a technique based on the recombination activity of defects, EBIC has roughly the same sensitivity as SPV. Both these techniques detect the formation of a denuded zone even when other methods fail, and can be considered as complementary tools.