Does anyone know how and which material to use to protect a Si layer from Oxidation by a small layer of thickness less than 1 nm ? (probably using atomic layer deposition)

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  • $\begingroup$ Hydrogen terminate the surface. Not permanent though... $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Nov 23, 2017 at 16:23
  • $\begingroup$ @JonCuster Thanks for the note. I am looking for a permanent solution. $\endgroup$
    – james
    Nov 23, 2017 at 16:25
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    $\begingroup$ Doesn't SiO2 layer protects from further oxidation? $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Nov 23, 2017 at 17:01
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    $\begingroup$ See Mithoron comment. If you need to avoid SiOx or OH groups, I really think that a subnanometer layer won't suffice. Unless there is a special technique/material known to those working with wafers $\endgroup$
    – Alchimista
    Nov 23, 2017 at 22:35

1 Answer 1


Fluorine termination might be worth a look, if you have the facility for it. Sunada et al., in 1990 Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 29 L24082, write in the abstract:

The principal role of silicon-fluorine bonds in the chemical nature of HF-etched Si surfaces has been investigated by angle-resolved X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. The native oxide growth thickness and the fluorine coverage have been systematically measured as functions of HF concentration, pure water rinse time, air or N2+O2 gas exposure time and gas phase H2O concentration. It is shown that the native oxide growth is strongly suppressed by the existence of Si-F bonds of about 0.12 monolayers on the surface. This is explained by a model in which Si-F bonds chemically stabilize the surface reactive sites such as atomic steps as supported by the result of the layer-by-layer oxidation of Si.

(My bolding). I haven't read the full text, and I suspect that "strongly suppressed" really means that there was a very small amount of oxidation, rather than none at all. And note that while silicon surfaces may be stabilised by fluorination, scientists tend to get violently destabilised by the same reaction. This is a potentially hazardous process and not to be undertaken lightly.

In any case, "stability" really depends on what the surface is going to be exposed to. F-termination may oxidise only very slowly in air, but if you get water in there, it's a different story. In 1993 Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 32 3125, Nakamura et al. write that:

The 1.0 monolayer of Si-F bonds was found to be replaced with the 0.7 monolayer of Si-H bonds and the 0.2-0.3 monolayer of Si-OH bonds after dipping into water for 1 min.

So there may not be a "permanent" solution, just one that resists further oxidation for a while. What are you actually trying to achieve?

One other thing you could investigate is growing a self-assembled monolayer (SAM), probably on an H-terminated Si surface. It's been a while, but IIRC some pretty stable coatings can be generated that way. A SAM forest may offer a decent steric barrier to further reaction.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much. This is very interesting! The aim is to build a Si reflector, but the reflection is reduced, if there is a oxydation surface at the top because of the change in refraction index. But if the surface is smaller than 1nm in width then it can be neglected. I was also thinking of using atomic layer deposition and deposit one layer of Ag... but I don't know if it is possible, or even useful ? I just supposed that Ag does not oxydise easily. $\endgroup$
    – james
    Nov 24, 2017 at 14:09

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