Interface broadening due to ion mixing during thin film growth at the radio-frequency-biased electrode in a plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition environment

A. Amassian*, M. Svec, P. Desjardins, L. Martinu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The authors show that ion bombardment in the range of tens to a few hundreds of eV, used in ion- and plasma-assisted deposition processes, can lead to thin film growth dominated by subsurface deposition due to subplantation (shallow implantation). This can cause significant interface broadening during the initial stages of film deposition as a result of ion mixing. First, by studying the modifications of a c-Si (100) target exposed to an O2 plasma at the radio-frequency (rf)-biased electrode using in situ real-time spectroscopic ellipsometry (RTSE), the authors detect implantation, damage, and oxidation to a depth of up to ∼10 nm. They validate these results using high resolution transmission electron microscopy and simulate the effects of ion-surface interactions at the rf-biased electrode by using Monte Carlo TRIDYN simulations. The simulation code, which was modified specifically to consider a broadband ion energy source, enabled the authors to reproduce depth and time relevant experimental results with good agreement. In situ RTSE was then used to monitor Ti O2 deposition on Si O2 under similar ion bombardment conditions. The authors observed the formation of a 2- to 4-nm -thick interfacial layer, depending on the ion-to-neutral flux ratio (φi φn), which was controlled by varying the deposition rate. TRIDYN simulations revealed that oxygen subplantation causes interfacial broadening during the growth through ballistic mixing of Ti and Si atoms at the interface; the interface width scales as ∼ (φi φn) 12. Intensive ion mixing at φi φn >1 is also shown to be responsible for the ballistic displacement of the majority of surface-deposited Ti atoms into the bulk, so that the growth appears to be dominated by subsurface deposition under conditions of intense ion bombardment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number013606JVA
Pages (from-to)2061-2069
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Vacuum Science and Technology A: Vacuum, Surfaces and Films
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Stéphane Larouche for his assistance with PECVD experiments, and Etienne Bousser and Jean-Philippe Masse for HRTEM measurements. The authors also acknowledge Matthias Posselt of Forschungszentrum Rossendorf (FZR) for providing a copy of the TRIDYN simulation code and Oleg Zabeida for helpful discussions. This work was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) programs. One of the authors (P.D.) acknowledges the support from the Canada Research Chair (CRC) program. Another author (A.A.) acknowledges the support from the NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship (PGS) and Postdoctoral Fellowship (PDF) programs.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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