New mechanism for oxidation of native silicon oxide

U. Khalilov, G. Pourtois, S. Huygh, A. C.T. Van Duin, E. C. Neyts, A. Bogaerts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Continued miniaturization of metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs) requires an ever-decreasing thickness of the gate oxide. The structure of ultrathin silicon oxide films, however, critically depends on the oxidation mechanism. Using reactive atomistic simulations, we here demonstrate how the oxidation mechanism in hyperthermal oxidation of such structures may be controlled by the oxidation temperature and the oxidant energy. Specifically, we study the interaction of hyperthermal oxygen with energies of 1-5 eV with thin SiOx (x ≤ 2) films with a native oxide thickness of about 10 Å. We analyze the oxygen penetration depth probability and compare with results of the hyperthermal oxidation of a bare Si(100){2 × 1} (c-Si) surface. The temperature-dependent oxidation mechanisms are discussed in detail. Our results demonstrate that, at low (i.e., room) temperature, the penetrated oxygen mostly resides in the oxide region rather than at the SiOx|c-Si interface. However, at higher temperatures, starting at around 700 K, oxygen atoms are found to penetrate and to diffuse through the oxide layer followed by reaction at the c-Si boundary. We demonstrate that hyperthermal oxidation resembles thermal oxidation, which can be described by the Deal-Grove model at high temperatures. Furthermore, defect creation mechanisms that occur during the oxidation process are also analyzed. This study is useful for the fabrication of ultrathin silicon oxide gate oxides for metal-oxide-semiconductor devices as it links parameters that can be straightforwardly controlled in experiment (oxygen temperature, velocity) with the silicon oxide structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9819-9825
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 16 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Energy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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