Orientation- and concentration-dependent surfactant adsorption on silicon in aqueous alkaline solutions: Explaining the changes in the etch rate, roughness and undercutting for MEMS applications

M. A. Gosálvez, B. Tang, P. Pal, K. Sato, Y. Kimura, K. Ishibashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We combine spectroscopic ellipsometry (SE), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), kinetic Monte Carlo simulations (KMC) and convex corner undercutting analysis in order to characterize and explain the effect of the addition of small amounts of surfactant in alkaline aqueous solutions, such as Triton X-100 in tetra methyl ammonium hydroxide (TMAH). We propose that the surfactant is adsorbed at the silicon-etchant interface as a thin layer, acting as a filter that moderates the surface reactivity by reducing the amount of reactant molecules that reach the surface. According to the SE and FT-IR measurements, the thickness of the adsorbed layer is an orientation- and concentration-dependent quantity, mostly due to the orientation dependence of the surface density of H-terminations and the concentration dependence of the relative rates of the underlying oxidation and etching reactions, which have a direct impact on the number of OH terminations. For partial OH coverage of the surface, the hydration of the OH group effectively acts as an anchoring location for the hydration shell of a surfactant molecule, thus enabling the formation of hydration bridges that amplify the adsorption density of the surfactant. At high concentration, the model explains the large reduction in the etch rate of the exact and vicinal Si{1 1 0} surfaces, and the small changes in the etch rates for the exact and vicinal Si{1 0 0} surfaces. At low concentration, it explains how the etch rate for both families is significantly reduced. The orientation and concentration dependence of the surfactant adsorption explains the dramatic differences in the micron-scale wet-etched patterns obtained using TMAH and TMAH+Triton for microelectromechanical systems applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125011
JournalJournal of Micromechanics and Microengineering
Volume19
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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