Ellipsometric Analysis of Silicon Nanoparticles Formed by Thermal Annealing
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In this study, we investigate the surface morphology and optical properties of silicon nanoparticles formed on a silicon-on-insulator substrate by thermal annealing of a thin silicon layer. The annealing is performed using a rapid thermal annealer in an argon environment at atmospheric pressure. We analyze the formation of silicon nanoparticles as a function of silicon layer thickness, annealing temperature, and annealing duration using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and we analysis the optical properties via Effective Medium Approximations (EMA) models using a Variable Angle Spectroscopic Ellipsometer (VASE). The results of these experiments showed that samples with a smaller initial silicon layer thicknesses produce larger average particle size and have a wider distribution of sizes than samples with thicker silicon top layers. As the annealing temperature and duration increases, so does the average nanoparticle radius. Analysis of the oxidation of the nanoparticles revealed that samples which exhibited a narrow distribution of small nanoparticles sizes oxidizes to a lesser extent than those with larger particles and wider distributions.