Light emission from silicon-based systems has gained significant interest over the past few decades with the vision of developing an optoelectronic platform that can be integrated with the existing metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) technology . Rare earth doping of silicon-based materials is a promising approach to fabricating efficient light emitting devices because of their excellent luminescence properties and their chemical stability . Europium (Eu) ions are attractive dopants for silicon photonic applications due to their intense emission in the visible spectral region. The efficiency of such photonic devices can be influenced by the mechanical properties of the Eu-doped films. Thus, the integration of these films in photonic devices requires an understanding of their mechanical properties as well. In this work, we discuss the relationship between the photoluminescence (PL) behavior and the elasticity and hardness of Eu doped silicon oxynitride (SiON) thin films.
We have fabricated thin films using an electron cyclotron resonance plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition system with integrated magnetron sputtering system  on p-type 3” Si (100) substrates. Silane (diluted in 90% argon) and nitrogen (diluted in 90% argon) were used as precursor gases, while a 99.9% pure Eu sputtering target was used as a sputtering source. Different sets of samples were fabricated by changing the sputtering power and argon flow rate to understand the effect of deposition parameters on the dopant concentration and the optical and mechanical properties. Post-deposition annealing in nitrogen and a mixture of nitrogen with hydrogen (5%) were performed over a wide range of temperatures from 600° to 1100° C. The effect of hydrogen passivation was studied as well. The atomic concentration of the constituents was identified by Rutherford backscattering spectrometry. Optical properties were investigated by variable angle spectroscopic ellipsometry (VASE) analysis. The PL spectra were obtained at room temperature with a laser diode excitation source, operating at a wavelength of 375nm. Finally, we performed nanoindentation measurements to understand the deformation behavior of SiON films with the incorporation of Eu. The indentation hardness and Young’s modulus of the films were investigated, respectively, for different Eu concentrations and different deposition parameters.
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