Hydrogen desorption from hydrogen fluoride and remote hydrogen plasma cleaned silicon carbide (0001) surfaces

Sean W. King, Satoru Tanaka, Robert F. Davis, Robert Nemanich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Due to the extreme chemical inertness of silicon carbide (SiC), in-situ thermal desorption is commonly utilized as a means to remove surface contamination prior to initiating critical semiconductor processing steps such as epitaxy, gate dielectric formation, and contact metallization. In-situ thermal desorption and silicon sublimation has also recently become a popular method for epitaxial growth of mono and few layer graphene. Accordingly, numerous thermal desorption experiments of various processed silicon carbide surfaces have been performed, but have ignored the presence of hydrogen, which is ubiquitous throughout semiconductor processing. In this regard, the authors have performed a combined temperature programmed desorption (TPD) and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) investigation of the desorption of molecular hydrogen (H2) and various other oxygen, carbon, and fluorine related species from ex-situ aqueous hydrogen fluoride (HF) and in-situ remote hydrogen plasma cleaned 6H-SiC (0001) surfaces. Using XPS, the authors observed that temperatures on the order of 700-1000 °C are needed to fully desorb C-H, C-O and Si-O species from these surfaces. However, using TPD, the authors observed H2 desorption at both lower temperatures (200-550 °C) as well as higher temperatures (>700 °C). The low temperature H2 desorption was deconvoluted into multiple desorption states that, based on similarities to H2 desorption from Si (111), were attributed to silicon mono, di, and trihydride surface species as well as hydrogen trapped by subsurface defects, steps, or dopants. The higher temperature H2 desorption was similarly attributed to H2 evolved from surface O-H groups at ∼750 °C as well as the liberation of H2 during Si-O desorption at temperatures >800 °C. These results indicate that while ex-situ aqueous HF processed 6H-SiC (0001) surfaces annealed at <700 °C remain terminated by some surface C-O and Si-O bonding, they may still exhibit significant chemical reactivity due to the creation of surface dangling bonds resulting from H2 desorption from previously undetected silicon hydride and surface hydroxide species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number05E105
JournalJournal of Vacuum Science and Technology A: Vacuum, Surfaces and Films
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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