A new phenomenon of highly localized, nanoscale densification and crystallization of silicon-nitride (Si3N4) layers has been observed. A drastic reduction in the thermal budget (temperature and processing time) for local densification and even nanocrystallization of low-pressure chemical vapor deposited amorphous Si3N4 layers is mediated by the presence of Ge, Si, and O interstitials in close proximity to the Si3N4. The enhancement of localized densification and nanocrystallization observed in Si3N4 layers appears to be catalyzed by proximal Ge quantum dots (QDs) 'migrating' through the Si3N4/Si layers and are influenced by the oxidation time and Ge QD size. Implications of the highly localized, nanoscale densification and crystallization of silicon-nitride (Si3N4) layers for photonic and electronic device applications are discussed.
- germanium quantum dot