Real time x-ray studies during nanostructure formation on silicon via low energy ion beam irradiation using ultrathin iron films

Osman El-Atwani, Anastassiya Suslova, Alexander Demasi, Sean Gonderman, Justin Fowler, Mohamad El-Atwani, Karl Ludwig, Jean Paul Allain

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Real time grazing incidence small angle x-ray scattering and x-ray fluorescence (XRF) are used to elucidate nanodot formation on silicon surfaces during low energy ion beam irradiation of ultrathin iron-coated silicon substrates. Four surface modification stages were identified: (1) surface roughening due to film erosion, (2) surface smoothing and silicon-iron mixing, (3) structure formation, and (4) structure smoothing. The results conclude that 2.5 × 1015 iron atoms in a 50 nm depth triggers surface nanopatterning with a correlated nanodots distance of 25 nm. Moreover, there is a wide window in time where the surface can have correlated nanostructures even after the removal of all the iron atoms from the sample as confirmed by XRF and ex-situ x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). In addition, in-situ XPS results indicated silicide formation, which plays a role in the structure formation mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number263104
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number26
StatePublished - Dec 24 2012


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)

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