Oxide Driven Strength Degradation of (111) Silicon Surfaces
SJ Grutzik and AT Zehnder, MEMS AND NANOTECHNOLOGY, VOL 5, 1-7 (2016).
Previous experiments have shown a link between oxidation and strength changes in single crystal silicon nanostructures but provided no clues as to the mechanisms leading to this relationship. Through a mix of atomic force microscope based fracture strength experiments, molecular dynamics modeling, and comparisons to past experiments we have shown that the previously described strength decrease is a result of oxidation induced roughening of an initially flat silicon (1 1 1) surface and we have shown this effect to be transient. In a fully developed native oxide the Si-SiO2 interface flattens. As a result the strength recovers with some indication that it becomes slightly stronger than in its initially hydrogen terminated state.
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