Influence of water contamination on the sputtering of silicon with low- energy argon ions investigated by molecular dynamics simulations

GRN Defoort-Levkov and A Bahm and P Philipp, BEILSTEIN JOURNAL OF NANOTECHNOLOGY, 13, 986-1003 (2022).

DOI: 10.3762/bjnano.13.86

Focused ion beams (FIB) are a common tool in nanotechnology for surface analysis, sample preparation for electron microscopy and atom probe tomography, surface patterning, nanolithography, nanomachining, and nanoprinting. For many of these applica-tions, a precise control of ion- beam-induced processes is essential. The effect of contaminations on these processes has not been thoroughly explored but can often be substantial, especially for ultralow impact energies in the sub-keV range. In this paper we in-vestigate by molecular dynamics (MD) simulations how one of the most commonly found residual contaminations in vacuum chambers (i.e., water adsorbed on a silicon surface) influences sputtering by 100 eV argon ions. The incidence angle was changed from normal incidence to close to grazing incidence. For the simulation conditions used in this work, the adsorption of water favours the formation of defects in silicon by mixing hydrogen and oxygen atoms into the substrate. The sputtering yield of silicon is not significantly changed by the contamination, but the fraction of hydrogen and oxygen atoms that is sputtered largely depends on the incidence angle. This fraction is the largest for incidence angles between 70 and 80 degrees defined with respect to the sample sur -face. Overall, it changes from 25% to 65%.

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