Nanoscale Research Letters
- Nanoscale Research Letters
Differently hydrogenated radio frequency-sputtered a-Si layers have been studied by infrared (IR) spectroscopy as a function of the annealing time at 350°C with the aim to get a deeper understanding of the origin of blisters previously observed by us in a-Si/a-Ge multilayers prepared under the same conditions as the ones applied to the present a-Si layers. The H content varied between 10.8 and 17.6 at.% as measured by elastic recoil detection analysis. IR spectroscopy showed that the concentration of the clustered (Si-H)n groups and of the (Si-H2)n (n ≥ 1) polymers increased at the expense of the Si-H mono-hydrides with increasing annealing time, suggesting that there is a corresponding increase of the volume of micro-voids whose walls are assumed from literature to be decorated by the clustered mono-hydride groups and polymers. At the same time, an increase in the size of surface blisters was observed. Also, with increasing annealing time, the total concentration of bonded H of any type decreases, indicating that H is partially released from its bonds to Si. It is argued that the H released from the (Si-H)n complexes and polymers at the microvoid surfaces form molecular H2 inside the voids, whose size increases upon annealing because of the thermal expansion of the H2 gas, eventually producing plastic surface deformation in the shape of blisters.