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Published March 1979 | Published
Journal Article Open

Influence of atomic mixing and preferential sputtering on depth profiles and interfaces


Atomic mixing and preferential sputtering impose a depth resolution limit on the use of sputter sectioning to measure the composition of metal–semiconductor interfaces. Experimental evidence obtained with the Pt–Si system is used to demonstrate ion‐induced atomic mixing and then its effect on sputter etching and depth profiling. Starting with discrete layer structures, a relatively low ion dose (≳3×10^(15) cm^(−2)) first produced a mixed surface layer with thickness comparable to the ion range. Higher ion doses then result in successive sputter etching and continual atomic mixing over a constant surface layer thickness. A model is developed that is based on a sputter removal (including preferential sputtering) of atoms at the surface and a uniform mixing of atoms over a constant thickness. The model predicts the influences of atomic mixing and preferential sputtering on the depth profiling of thin‐film structures and interfaces.

Additional Information

© 1979 American Vacuum Society. Received 28 October 1978; accepted 18 December 1978. The authors are indebted to their colleagues: G. E. Chapman, S. E. Matteson, J. K. Hirvonen (Naval Research Lab.), and J. M. Poate (Bell Labs), for their interest and participation in part of the present experimental work. They are also indebted to D. M. Scott, whose work on the accelerator made most data in this paper possible, and to J. J. Mallory for his skillful sample preparations. The partial financial support of the Army Research Office is gratefully acknowledged.

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