Production of nanometric particles in radio frequency glow discharges in mixtures of silane and methane

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-571
Journal / PublicationJournal of Vacuum Science and Technology A: Vacuum, Surfaces and Films
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1996
Externally publishedYes


The formation of silicon particles in rf glow discharges has attracted attention due to their effect as a contaminant during film deposition or etching. However, silicon and silicon alloy powders produced by plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) are promising new materials for sintering ceramics, for making nanoscale filters, or for supporting catalytic surfaces. Common characteristics of these powders are their high purity and the easy control of their stoichiometry through the composition of the precursor gas mixture. Plasma parameters also influence their structure. Nanometric powders of silicon-carbon alloys exhibiting microstructural properties such as large hydrogen content and high surface/volume ratio have been produced in a PECVD reactor using mixtures of silane and methane at low pressure (<1 Torr) and low frequency square-wave modulated rf power (13.56 MHz). The a-Si1-xCx:H powders were obtained from different precursor gas mixtures, from R=0.05 to R=9, where R=[SiH4]/([SiH4]+[CH4]). The structure of the a-Si1-xCx:H powder was analyzed by several techniques. The particles appeared agglomerated, with a wide size distribution between 5 and 100 nm. The silane/methane gas mixture determined the vibrational features of these powders in the infrared. Silicon-hydrogen groups were present for every gas composition, whereas carbon-hydrogen and silicon-carbon bonds appeared in methane-rich mixtures (R