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Open Access Nano Express

Formation of silicon nanodots via ion beam sputtering of ultrathin gold thin film coatings on Si

Osman El-Atwani12*, Sami Ortoleva3, Alex Cimaroli4 and Jean Paul Allain124

Author Affiliations

1 School of Materials Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA

2 Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA

3 School of Electrical Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA

4 School of Nuclear Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:403  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-403

Published: 31 May 2011

Abstract

Ion beam sputtering of ultrathin film Au coatings used as a physical catalyst for self-organization of Si nanostructures has been achieved by tuning the incident particle energy. This approach holds promise as a scalable nanomanufacturing parallel processing alternative to candidate nanolithography techniques. Structures of 11- to 14-nm Si nanodots are formed with normal incidence low-energy Ar ions of 200 eV and fluences above 2 × 1017 cm-2. In situ surface characterization during ion irradiation elucidates early stage ion mixing migration mechanism for nanodot self-organization. In particular, the evolution from gold film islands to the formation of ion-induced metastable gold silicide followed by pure Si nanodots formed with no need for impurity seeding.