Interface engineering during plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition of porous/dense SiN1.3 optical multilayers

A. Amassian, R. Vernhes, J. E. Klemberg-Sapieha, P. Desjardins, L. Martinu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


We investigate the growth of dense/porous SiN1.3 multilayers by dual-mode radiofrequency/microwave (RF/MW) plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) using in situ real-time spectroscopic ellipsometry (RTSE) and post-deposition atomic force microscopy (AFM). Dense (d-) SiN1.3 films grown under high-energy ion bombardment on flat c-Si (001) substrates are very smooth (root mean square (RMS) roughness R=0.5 nm) and exhibit bulk-like optical properties (n=l.9 at 550 nm). In contrast, porous (p-) SiN1.3 films deposited at low ion energies are porous and columnar, with n∼1.6 and R∼2 nm. When SiN1.3 layers are grown under high ion-energy bombardment conditions on porous films, RTSE analyses reveal a rapid filling of surface porosity, at a rate depending on the incident precursor flux, before the total film thickness starts to increase. Films prepared under these conditions exhibit a lower average n (∼1.8), an ascending index depth profile, and a higher roughness (R>3 nm) than the layers deposited under identical conditions on initially flat surfaces. We also demonstrate that the use of Ar ion bombardment, under RF plasma conditions, is an effective method for decreasing the roughness of porous films. SiN1.3 layers deposited under RF plasma conditions on such surface engineered substrates are dense with high and uniform n values. Such an approach has been successfully used to grow dense/porous multilayer optical interference filters. It efficiently stops roughness propagation through the multilayer stack and allows growing filters with optical characteristics essentially identical to those predicted from the design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-53
Number of pages7
JournalThin Solid Films
Issue numberSPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - Dec 22 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Ellipsometry
  • Optical coatings
  • Plasma processing and deposition
  • Silicon nitride

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Surfaces and Interfaces


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