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Open Access Nano Express

Effect of thermal treatment on the growth, structure and luminescence of nitride-passivated silicon nanoclusters

Patrick RJ Wilson1*, Tyler Roschuk1, Kayne Dunn1, Elise N Normand2, Evgueni Chelomentsev1, Othman HY Zalloum1, Jacek Wojcik1 and Peter Mascher1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Engineering Physics and Centre for Emerging Device Technologies, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario L8S4L7, Canada

2 Department of Physics and Engineering Physics, University of Saskatchewan, 116 Science Place, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N5E2, Canada

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:168  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-168

Published: 23 February 2011


Silicon nanoclusters (Si-ncs) embedded in silicon nitride films have been studied to determine the effects that deposition and processing parameters have on their growth, luminescent properties, and electronic structure. Luminescence was observed from Si-ncs formed in silicon-rich silicon nitride films with a broad range of compositions and grown using three different types of chemical vapour deposition systems. Photoluminescence (PL) experiments revealed broad, tunable emissions with peaks ranging from the near-infrared across the full visible spectrum. The emission energy was highly dependent on the film composition and changed only slightly with annealing temperature and time, which primarily affected the emission intensity. The PL spectra from films annealed for duration of times ranging from 2 s to 2 h at 600 and 800°C indicated a fast initial formation and growth of nanoclusters in the first few seconds of annealing followed by a slow, but steady growth as annealing time was further increased. X-ray absorption near edge structure at the Si K- and L3,2-edges exhibited composition-dependent phase separation and structural re-ordering of the Si-ncs and silicon nitride host matrix under different post-deposition annealing conditions and generally supported the trends observed in the PL spectra.