Applied Physics A

, Volume 117, Issue 4, pp 1631–1644 | Cite as

Understanding the electron-stimulated surface reactions of organometallic complexes to enable design of precursors for electron beam-induced deposition

  • Julie A. Spencer
  • Samantha G. Rosenberg
  • Michael Barclay
  • Yung-Chien Wu
  • Lisa McElwee-White
  • D. Howard Fairbrother


Standard practice in electron beam-induced deposition (EBID) is to use precursors designed for thermal processes, such as chemical vapor deposition (CVD). However, organometallic precursors that yield pure metal deposits in CVD often create EBID deposits with high levels of organic contamination. This contamination negatively impacts the deposit’s properties (e.g., by increasing resistivity or decreasing catalytic activity) and severely limits the range of potential applications for metal-containing EBID nanostructures. To provide the information needed for the rational design of precursors specifically for EBID, we have employed an ultra-high vacuum (UHV) surface science approach to identify the elementary reactions of organometallic precursors during EBID. These UHV studies have demonstrated that the initial electron-induced deposition of the surface-bound organometallic precursors proceeds through desorption of one or more of the ligands present in the parent compound. In specific cases, this deposition step has been shown to proceed via dissociative electron attachment, involving low-energy secondary electrons generated by the interaction of the primary beam with the substrate. Electron beam processing of the surface-bound species produced in the initial deposition event usually causes decomposition of the residual ligands, creating nonvolatile fragments. This process is believed to be responsible for a significant fraction of the organic contaminants typically observed in EBID nanostructures. A few ligands (e.g., halogens) can, however, desorb during electron beam processing while other ligands (e.g., PF3, CO) can thermally desorb if elevated substrate temperatures are used during deposition. Using these general guidelines for reactivity, we propose some design strategies for EBID precursors. The ultimate goal is to minimize organic contamination and thus overcome the key bottleneck for fabrication of relatively pure EBID nanostructures.


Electron Irradiation Organometallic Complex Organic Contamination Dissociative Electron Attachment Electron Dose 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julie A. Spencer
    • 2
  • Samantha G. Rosenberg
    • 2
  • Michael Barclay
    • 2
  • Yung-Chien Wu
    • 1
  • Lisa McElwee-White
    • 1
  • D. Howard Fairbrother
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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