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Nano Lett. 2013 Jun 12;13(6):2458-62. doi: 10.1021/nl400447d. Epub 2013 May 21.

Direct imaging of 3D atomic-scale dopant-defect clustering processes in ion-implanted silicon.

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  • 1IMEC, Kapeldreef 75, 3001 Leuven, Belgium. sebastian.koelling@cnt.fraunhofer.de


The fabrication of nanoscale semiconductor devices for use in future electronics, energy, and health is among others based on the precise placement of dopant atoms into the crystal lattice of semiconductors and their concurrent or subsequent electrical activation. Dopants are built into the lattice by fabrication processes like ion implantation, plasma-based doping, and thermal annealing. Throughout the fabrication processes fundamental phenomena like dopant diffusion, activation, and clustering occur concurrently with damaging and subsequently recovering the crystal lattice. These processes are described by atomic-scale mechanisms of ion-host atom interaction and have an immense impact on the electrical performance of the resulting devices. Insight in their fundamental nature is of utmost importance for optimizing the performance of nanoscale technologies. In this paper, we demonstrate direct three-dimensional imaging of boron clusters and atoms in crystal defects using field ion microscopy. Our approach allows for the first time the complete characterization of the size and crystallographic orientation of boron-decorated crystal defects. This new method opens a path to image a wide variety of dopant-cluster forms and hence to study the formation and dissolution of boron clusters in silicon on the atomic scale.

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