Computer simulation of radio-frequency methane/hydrogen plasmas and their interaction with GaAs Surfaces

  • Russell L. Layberry

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The following thesis describes the computer modelling of radio frequency capacitively coupled methane/hydrogen plasmas and the consequences for the reactive ion etching of (100) GaAs surfaces. In addition a range of etching experiments was undertaken over a matrix of pressure, power and methane concentration. The resulting surfaces were investigated using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and the results were discussed in terms of physical and chemical models of particle/surface interactions in addition to the predictions for energies, angles and relative fluxes to the substrate of the various plasma species. The model consisted of a Monte Carlo code which followed electrons and ions through the plasma and sheath potentials whilst taking account of collisions with background neutral gas molecules. The ionisation profile output from the electron module was used as input for the ionic module. Momentum scattering interactions of ions with gas molecules were investigated via different models and compared against results given by quantum mechanical code. The interactions were treated as central potential scattering events and the resulting neutral cascades were followed. The resulting predictions for ion energies at the cathode compared well to experimental ion energy distributions and this verified the particular form of the electrical potentials used and their applicability in the particular geometry plasma cell used in the etching experiments. The final code was used to investigate the effect of external plasma parameters on the mass distribution, energy and angles of all species impingent on the electrodes. Comparisons of electron energies in the plasma also agreed favourably with measurements made using a Langmuir electric probe. The surface analysis showed the surfaces all to be depleted in arsenic due to its preferential removal and the resultant Ga:As ratio in the surface was found to be directly linked to the etch rate. The etch rate was determined by the methane flux which was predicted by the code.
Date of AwardJun 1999
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJohn L Sullivan (Supervisor)


  • plasma
  • radio frequency
  • model
  • consequences
  • GaAs
  • etch

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