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Sunday, March 23, 2014

#281 Silicon and hydrogen

Intrinsic physical properties of any given semiconductor material are not the only factor determining its suitability for commercial device manufacturing. What also counts is the nature and the extent of interactions with process ambient and its components. From this point of view, interactions (mostly unintentional, by the way) of silicon with hydrogen play a very special role both in terms of pros and cons.


Hydrogen is plentiful in semiconductor process environment and can readily interact with silicon and silicon dioxide at each and every stage of the process. Wet etching and cleaning operations including water rinses, dry etch processes and wafer polishing operations all result in the hydrogen penetration of silicon and result, between others, in de-activation of p-type boron dopants near the wafer surface as well as formation of recombination sites in silicon.


On the other hand, however, hydrogen fulfills several critically important positive functions in silicon device technology. For instance, if not for hydrogen ability to passivate defects in amorphous silicon, thin-film silicon solar cells would be hardly possible. Also, hydrogen termination of Si surfaces provides a solid barrier against uncontrolled interaction of silicon with oxygen, moisture and organic contaminants. The good news in all this is that hydrogen interactions with silicon are well enough understood to minimize their potential negative effects and to take full advantage of those playing highly positive role.

Posted by Jerzy Ruzyllo at 09:01 PM | Semiconductors | Link is the personal blog of Jerzy Ruzyllo. With over 35 years of experience in academic research and teaching in the area of semiconductor engineering (currently holding position of a Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Penn State University), he has a unique perspective on the developments in this progress driving technical domain and enjoys blogging about it.

With over 2000 terms defined and explained, Semiconductor Glossary is the most complete reference in the field of semiconductors on the market today.

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