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Pure Appl. Chem., 2002, Vol. 74, No. 3, pp. 483-487

Clustering phenomena in low-pressure reactive plasmas. Basis and applications

Y. Watanabe, M. Shiratani and K. Koga

Faculty of Information Science and Electrical Engineering, Kyushu University, Fukuoka 812-8581, Japan

Abstract: Clustering phenomena of particles below a few nm in size in low-pressure reactive plasmas have been studied in capacitively coupled high-frequency SiH4 discharges. Clusters nucleate around a size of 0.5 nm, Si4Hx and subsequently grow due to influxes of SinHx (1 < n < 4) and other molecular species. Because of long gas-residence time and small surface loss-probability of clusters, even neutral ones accumulate to nucleate in the reactor. Appearance of negatively charged clusters is considered to become noticeable at around Si4Hx. The growth of clusters is suppressed by using thermophoretic force, gas flow, periodical discharge modulation, and hydrogen dilution. The reactor has been newly developed to suppress the growth of clusters both by thermophoretic force and by gas flow and evacuation without stagnation. Using the reactor, a-Si:H films of extremely high quality have been successfully deposited.