This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (February 2012)“Epitaxis” redirects here. For the main action of a classical drama, see Epitasis. For the phenomenon involving the modification of one gene’s effects by one or more other genes, see Epistasis.
Epitaxy refers to the deposition of a crystalline overlayer on a crystalline substrate, where the overlayer is in registry with the substrate. In other words, there must be one or more preferred orientations of the overlayer with respect to the substrate for this to be termed epitaxial growth. The overlayer is called an epitaxial film or epitaxial layer. The term epitaxy comes from the Greek roots epi, meaning “above”, and taxis, meaning “in ordered manner”. It can be translated “to arrange upon”. For most technological applications, it is desired that the deposited material form a crystalline overlayer that has one well-defined orientation with respect to the substrate crystal structure (single-domain epitaxy).
Epitaxial films may be grown from gaseous or liquid precursors. Because the substrate acts as a seed crystal, the deposited film may lock into one or more crystallographic orientations with respect to the substrate crystal. If the overlayer either forms a random orientation with respect to the substrate or does not form an ordered overlayer, this is termed non-epitaxial growth. If an epitaxial film is deposited on a substrate of the same composition, the process is called homoepitaxy; otherwise it is called heteroepitaxy.
Homoepitaxy is a kind of epitaxy performed with only one material. In homoepitaxy, a crystalline film is grown on a substrate or film of the same material. This technology is used to grow a film which is more pure than the substrate and to fabricate layers having different doping levels. In academic literature, homoepitaxy is often abbreviated to “homoepi”.
Heteroepitaxy is a kind of epitaxy performed with materials that are different from each other. In heteroepitaxy, a crystalline film grows on a crystalline substrate or film of a different material. This technology is often used to grow crystalline films of materials for which crystals cannot otherwise be obtained and to fabricate integrated crystalline layers of different materials. Examples include gallium nitride (GaN) on sapphire, aluminium gallium indium phosphide (AlGaInP) on gallium arsenide (GaAs) or diamond or iridium.
Heterotopotaxy is a process similar to heteroepitaxy except for the fact that thin film growth is not limited to two dimensional growth. Here the substrate is similar only in structure to the thin film material.
Epitaxy is used in silicon-based manufacturing processes for BJTs and modern CMOS, but it is particularly important for compound semiconductors such as gallium arsenide. Manufacturing issues include control of the amount and uniformity of the deposition’s resistivity and thickness, the cleanliness and purity of the surface and the chamber atmosphere, the prevention of the typically much more highly doped substrate wafer’s diffusion of dopant to the new layers, imperfections of the growth process, and protecting the surfaces during the manufacture and handling.
Epitaxial silicon is usually grown using vapor-phase epitaxy (VPE), a modification of chemical vapor deposition. Molecular-beam and liquid-phase epitaxy (MBE and LPE) are also used, mainly for compound semiconductors. Solid-phase epitaxy is used primarily for crystal-damage healing.
- SiCl4(g) + 2H2(g) ↔ Si(s) + 4HCl(g)
This reaction is reversible, and the growth rate depends strongly upon the proportion of the two source gases. Growth rates above 2 micrometres per minute produce polycrystalline silicon, and negative growth rates (etching) may occur if too much hydrogen chloride byproduct is present. (In fact, hydrogen chloride may be added intentionally to etch the wafer.) An additional etching reaction competes with the deposition reaction:
- SiCl4(g) + Si(s) ↔ 2SiCl2(g)
- SiH4 → Si + 2H2
This reaction does not inadvertently etch the wafer, and takes place at lower temperatures than deposition from silicon tetrachloride. However, it will form a polycrystalline film unless tightly controlled, and it allows oxidizing species that leak into the reactor to contaminate the epitaxial layer with unwanted compounds such as silicon dioxide.
Liquid phase epitaxy (LPE) is a method to grow semiconductor crystal layers from the melt on solid substrates. This happens at temperatures well below the melting point of the deposited semiconductor. The semiconductor is dissolved in the melt of another material. At conditions that are close to the equilibrium between dissolution and deposition, the deposition of the semiconductor crystal on the substrate is relatively fast and uniform. Mostly used substrate is indium phosphide (InP). Other substrates like glass or ceramic can be applied for special applications. To facilitate nucleation, and to avoid tension in the grown layer the thermal expansion coefficient of substrate and grown layer should be similar.
Solid Phase Epitaxy (SPE) is a transition between the amorphous and crystalline phases of a material. It is usually done by first depositing a film of amorphous material on a crystalline substrate. The substrate is then heated to crystallize the film. The single crystal substrate serves as a template for crystal growth. The annealing step used to recrystallize or heal silicon layers amorphized during ion implantation is also considered one type of Solid Phase Epitaxy. The Impurity segregation and redistribution at the growing crystal-amorphus layer interface during this process is used to incorporate low-solubility dopants in metals and Silicon.
- Main article: Molecular-beam epitaxy
In MBE, a source material is heated to produce an evaporated beam of particles. These particles travel through a very high vacuum (10−8 Pa; practically free space) to the substrate, where they condense. MBE has lower throughput than other forms of epitaxy. This technique is widely used for growing III-V semiconductor crystals.
An epitaxial layer can be doped during deposition by adding impurities to the source gas, such as arsine, phosphine or diborane. The concentration of impurity in the gas phase determines its concentration in the deposited film. As in CVD, impurities change the deposition rate. Additionally, the high temperatures at which CVD is performed may allow dopants to diffuse into the growing layer from other layers in the wafer (“out-diffusion”). Also, dopants in the source gas, liberated by evaporation or wet etching of the surface, may diffuse into the epitaxial layer (“autodoping”). The dopant profiles of underlying layers change as well, however not as significantly.
 See also
- Island growth
- Atomic layer epitaxy
- Exchange bias
- Quantum cascade laser
- Selective area epitaxy
- Silicon on sapphire
- Single event upset
- Wake Shield Facility
- Zhores Ivanovich Alferov
- ^ M. Schreck et al., Appl. Phys. Lett. 78, 192 (2001); doi: 10.1063/1.1337648
- ^ A. Polman et al., J. Appl. Phys., Vol. 75, No. 6, 15 March 1994
- ^ A. Y. Cho, “Growth of III\–V semiconductors by molecular beam epitaxy and their properties,” Thin Solid Films, vol. 100, pp. 291-317, 1983.
- ^ Cheng, K.-Y., “Molecular beam epitaxy technology of III-V compound semiconductors for optoelectronic applications,” Proceedings of the IEEE , vol.85, no.11, pp.1694-1714, Nov 1997 URL: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=649646&isnumber=14175
- Jaeger, Richard C. (2002). “Film Deposition”. Introduction to Microelectronic Fabrication. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-201-44494-7.
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