Applied Physics A

, Volume 60, Issue 4, pp 347–363

Hydrogen on Si: Ubiquitous surface termination after wet-chemical processing

  • G. J. Pietsch
Invited Paper


The manufacture of microelectronic devices based on silicon technology is largely dominated by wet chemical processes. By ultraclean sample preparation in air and a fast transfer into UltraHigh Vacuum (UHV) we open up a way for the atomic-scale structural and chemical characterization of silicon surfaces immediately after wet-chemical processing. Using Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM), ThermoDesorption (TDS) and InfraRed Spectroscopy (IRS), we find that a surface termination predominantly by hydrogen results from all the different wet-chemical treatments investigated (etching with hydrofluoric acid, rinsing with hot water, chemomechanical polishing)-despite the different chemical ambients and process parameters involved. Microscopically, a crystallographically preferential attack of the silicon is observed in all these processes which results, to a different extent, in anisotropic defect structures on the surfaces. This is explained by an interplay of aqueous reaction kinetics and sterical hindrance on the silicon surface. It is pointed out how a UHV surface analysis of the micromorphology of wet-chemically treated silicon surfaces, so far carried out mostly on Si(111) due to its easier preparation and experimental accessability, may help to provide the in-depth understanding of the atomic-scale mechanisms during wet-chemical processing demanded by the progressing miniaturization of microelectronic devices. The atomically smoother and chemically more homogeneous Si(111) obtained after preferential etching with NH4F suggests that in future applications Si(111) may gain importance over Si(100), which still dominates in today's semiconductor technology, since future devices increasingly rely on tailor-made and “ideal” properties on an atomic scale. Due to their structural and chemical simplicity and well-controlable characteristics, H-teminated surfaces after wet-chemical preparation also form ideal substrates for conventional UHV surface studies such as absorption and MBE-growth experiments.


61.16.Di 81.60.Cp 68.35.Bs 


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© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. J. Pietsch
    • 1
  1. 1.Philips-UniversitätMarburgGermany

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