Atom-by-atom simulations of chemical vapor deposition of nanoporous hydrogenated silicon nitride

J Houska and JE Klemberg-Sapieha and L Martinu, JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS, 107, 083501 (2010).

DOI: 10.1063/1.3371680

Amorphous hydrogenated silicon nitride (SiNH) materials prepared by plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) are of high interest because of their suitability for diverse applications including optical coatings, gas/vapor permeation barriers, corrosion resistant, and protective coatings and numerous others. In addition, they are very suitable for structurally graded systems such as those with a graded refractive index. In parallel, modeling the PECVD process of SiN (H) of an a priori given SiN (H) ratio by atomistic calculations represents a challenge due to: (1) different (and far from constant) sticking coefficients of individual elements, and (2) expected formation of N-2 (and H-2) gas molecules. In the present work, we report molecular- dynamics simulations of particle-by-particle deposition process of SiNH films from SiHx and N radicals. We observe formation of a mixed zone (damaged layer) in the initial stages of film growth, and (under certain conditions) formation of nanopores in the film bulk. We investigate the effect of various PECVD process parameters (ion energy, composition of the SiHx+N particle flux, ion fraction in the particle flux, composition of the SiHx radicals, angle of incidence of the particle flux) on both (1) deposition characteristics, such as sticking coefficients, and (2) material characteristics, such as dimension of the nanopores formed. The results provide detailed insight into the complex relationships between these process parameters and the characteristics of the deposited SiNH materials and exhibit an excellent agreement with the experimentally observed results. (C) 2010 American Institute of Physics. doi:10.1063/1.3371680

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