Nanopatterning of silicon surfaces by low-energy ion-beam sputtering: dependence on the angle of ion incidence

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ISSN: 0957-4484 (Print)
ISSN: 1361-6528 (Online)
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Institute of Physics
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We report on the production of nanoscale patterning on Si substrates by low-energy ion-beam sputtering. The surface morphology and structure of the irradiated surface were studied by atomic force microscopy (AFM) and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM). Under ion irradiation at off-normal incidence angle (~50°), AFM images show the formation of both nanoripple and sawtooth-like structures for sputtering times longer than 20 min. The latter feature coarsens appreciably after 60 min of sputtering, inducing a large increase in the surface roughness. This behaviour is attributed to the preferential direction determined on the substrate by the ion beam for this incidence angle, leading to shadowing effects among surface features in the sputtering process. Under irradiation at normal incidence, the formation of an hexagonal array of nanodots is induced for irradiation times longer than 2 min. The shape and crystallinity of the nanodots were determined by HRTEM. At this incidence angle, the surface roughness is very low and remains largely unchanged even after 16 h of sputtering. For the two angle conditions studied, the formation of the corresponding surface structures can be understood as the interplay between an instability due to the sputtering yield dependence on the local surface curvature and surface smoothing processes such as surface diffusion.
5 pages, 3 figures.-- PACS nrs.: 81.16.Rf, 81.65.Cf, 68.35.B-, 68.37.Lp, 68.37.Ps, 68.47.Fg.
[PACS] Nanoscale pattern formation, [PACS] Surface cleaning, etching, patterning, [PACS] Structure of clean surfaces (and surface reconstruction), [PACS] Transmission electron microscopy (TEM), [PACS] Atomic force microscopy (AFM), [PACS] Semiconductor surfaces
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Nanotechnology, 2002, vol. 13, n. 3, p. 304-308