Atomic insight into tribochemical wear mechanism of silicon at the Si/SiO2 interface in aqueous environment: Molecular dynamics simulations using ReaxFF reactive force field

JL Wen and TB Ma and WW Zhang and G Psofogiannakis and ACT van Duin and L Chen and LM Qian and YZ Hu and XC Lu, APPLIED SURFACE SCIENCE, 390, 216-223 (2016).

DOI: 10.1016/j.apsusc.2016.08.082

In this work, the atomic mechanism of tribochemical wear of silicon at the Si/SiO2 interface in aqueous environment was investigated using ReaxFF molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. Two types of Si atom removal pathways were detected in the wear process. The first is caused by the destruction of stretched Si-O-Si bonds on the Si substrate surface and is assisted by the attachment of H atoms on the bridging oxygen atoms of the bonds. The other is caused by the rupture of Si-Si bonds in the stretched Si-Si-O-Si bond chains at the interface. Both pathways effectively remove Si atoms from the silicon surface via interfacial Si-O-Si bridge bonds. Our simulations also demonstrate that higher pressures applied to the silica phase can cause more Si atoms to be removed due to the formation of increased numbers of interfacial Si-O-Si bridge bonds. Besides, water plays a dual role in the wear mechanism, by oxidizing the Si substrate surface as well as by preventing the close contact of the surfaces. This work shows that the removal of Si atoms from the substrate is a result of both chemical reaction and mechanical effects and contributes to the understanding of tribochemical wear behavior in the microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and Si chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) process. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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