Low-damage direct patterning of silicon oxide mask by mechanical processing
Department of Innovative System Engineering, Nippon Institute of Technology, 4-1 Gakuendai, Miyashiro-machi, Saitama 345-8501, Japan
Nanoscale Research Letters 2014, 9:269 doi:10.1186/1556-276X-9-269Published: 29 May 2014
To realize the nanofabrication of silicon surfaces using atomic force microscopy (AFM), we investigated the etching of mechanically processed oxide masks using potassium hydroxide (KOH) solution. The dependence of the KOH solution etching rate on the load and scanning density of the mechanical pre-processing was evaluated. Particular load ranges were found to increase the etching rate, and the silicon etching rate also increased with removal of the natural oxide layer by diamond tip sliding. In contrast, the local oxide pattern formed (due to mechanochemical reaction of the silicon) by tip sliding at higher load was found to have higher etching resistance than that of unprocessed areas. The profile changes caused by the etching of the mechanically pre-processed areas with the KOH solution were also investigated. First, protuberances were processed by diamond tip sliding at lower and higher stresses than that of the shearing strength. Mechanical processing at low load and scanning density to remove the natural oxide layer was then performed. The KOH solution selectively etched the low load and scanning density processed area first and then etched the unprocessed silicon area. In contrast, the protuberances pre-processed at higher load were hardly etched. The etching resistance of plastic deformed layers was decreased, and their etching rate was increased because of surface damage induced by the pre-processing. These results show that etching depth can be controlled by controlling the etching time through natural oxide layer removal and mechanochemical oxide layer formation. These oxide layer removal and formation processes can be exploited to realize low-damage mask patterns.