Oxygen assisted focused electron beam induced deposition of silicon dioxide

Focused Electron Beam Induced Deposition (FEBID) is a rapid prototyping technique for the investigation, production and modification of 2 and 3-D nanostructures. The process takes place at room temperature, in the high-vacuum chamber of a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). The principle is based on the local FEB decomposition of molecules injected in the chamber and adsorbed on a surface. These molecules, called the precursors, are specifically chosen to contain the element of interest to be deposited. However, the electron induced decomposition results in contaminated materials containing additional parasitic elements from the precursor molecule. These contaminants are incorporated with the element of interest, and downgrade the properties of the materials and prevent therefore their use for many applications. Gas-assisted FEBID, the subject of this thesis, is a promising evolution and solution to the problem that was never extensively studied in literature. It consists in injecting a reactive gas simultaneously to the precursors, which will react in real time with the deposited contaminants to form volatile products, leaving ideally only the interesting material on the surface. This work focused on the Oxygen assisted FEBID of Silicon dioxide (SiO2) and on the understanding of the deposition process. SiO2 it is a high performance material for nano-optic and electronic applications, widely used in research and industry. Modifications were brought to an existing SEM to allow the simultaneous injection of two different and controlled gases, and to allow the in-situ control of growth of optical materials. Si-precursors of three families (alkoxy-, alkyl- and isocyanato-silanes) were compared. The FEBID material could be gradually converted from contaminated Si-materials to pure SiO2, above a [O2]/[precursor] ratio specific to each precursor chemistry and precursor flow. The SiO2 deposited was stoichiometric, C and OH–free, had an estimated density of 2.2, was amorphous and had optical properties close to that of fused silica. Optical structures for nano-optics and plasmonics were produced. Compared to traditional FEBID, O2 assisted FEBID required much lower energy to induce a decomposition reaction, and secondary electrons achieved 90 % of the deposition process in our setup. The electron efficiency could be multiplied by 20 compared to conventional FEBID. O2 assisted FEBID was insensitive to electron density in our setup. The conditions for no C and large deposition rates during O2 assisted FEBID were high molecule reactivity to O2, low sticking coefficient, low acceleration voltage and dwell time (< 6 µs), and large replenishment time (> 60 µs). As function of the precursor chemistry and flow, additional O2 influenced the deposition rate, which could be increased it by a factor of 7. The O2 and precursor molecules co-adsorption resulted in a surface coverage competition, which determined the deposition efficiencies. Limitations due to the residual water in the SEM were demonstrated and characterized. They appeared as Oxygen incorporation in the deposited materials, which influenced the deposition process. Residual water impinging flow was demonstrated to be responsible of the FEBID process deposition efficiency when no Oxygen was injected.

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