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A-plane (11-20) and diagonal cut (1-102) and (-110-2) surfaces of 4H-SiC have been investigated using atomic force microscopy (AFM), low-energy electron diffraction (LEED), Auger electron spectroscopy (AES), X-ray photoemission spectroscopy (XPS) and scanning tunneling microscopy (STM). After hydrogen etching the surfaces show large, flat terraces. On SiC(11-20) steps down to single atomic heights are observed. On the diagonal cut surfaces steps run parallel and perpendicular to the [-1101] direction, yet drastically different morphologies for the two isomorphic orientations are found. All surfaces immediately display a sharp LEED pattern. For SiC(1-102) and SiC(-110-2) the additional significant presence of oxygen in the AES spectra indicates the development of an ordered oxide. All three surfaces show an oxygen free, well ordered surface after Si deposition and annealing. A transformation between different surface phases is observed upon annealing.
The surface of 3C-SiC(001) single-crystal epilayers grown on Si(001) substrates is well known to be inhomogeneous and defective. Therefore, the control and understanding at the atomic scale of 3C-SiC surfaces is a key issue. We study the effect of hydrogen etching at different temperatures on the morphology of 3C-SiC(001) surfaces by using Nomarksi optical microscopy, atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). As-grown 3C-SiC(001) samples have been hydrogen etched in a horizontal hot-wall chemical vapor deposition (CVD) reactor at atmospheric pressure for different times and temperatures. Flat, high-quality surfaces presenting defined atomic terraces were observed within the 3C-SiC grain boundaries after etching at 1200°C for 30 minutes. Higher etching temperatures resulted in surfaces with step bunching and enlarged surface defects. Samples etched under the best conditions have been studied using low-energy electron diffraction (LEED) and Auger electron spectroscopy (AES).
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