J. Phys. III France
Volume 5, Numéro 11, November 1995
Page(s) 1707 - 1728
DOI: 10.1051/jp3:1995220
J. Phys. III France 5 (1995) 1707-1728

Diffusion - Reaction: The Oxidation of Silicides in Electronics and Elsewhere

F.M. d'Heurle

IBM Research Center, PO 218, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598, USA, and Fasta tillståndets elektronik, KTH-Electrum, Box 229, 164 40 Kista, Sweden

(Received 9 December 1995, revised 5 May 1995, accepted 23 June 1995)

The present article is a review of the up-to-date state of knowledge about the oxidation of silicide in film and "bulk" forms. The oxidation of silicides is analyzed with due respect to thermodynamics but the emphasis is placed on the kinetics of the process. A distinction is made between what occurs with silicide thin films used as conductors in the electronic industry, where the silicides are always in presence of excess silicon, and in the oxidation of "bulk" silicide structural parts where this condition is not encountered. Use is made of a graphical approach that was originally used to illustrate the oxidation of Si itself. The kinetic analysis provides at least a qualitative explanation of the conditions that must be met in the electronic industry to maintain the integrity of silicide layers in oxidizing atmospheres, and of the conditions that cause the occurrence of the "pest" phenomenon in structural parts. Although attention is directed mostly to silicides, it is clear that the approach and the model used are valid for other refractory compounds, so that allusions are made also to aluminides and beryllides, etc. Marker experiments to probe the motion of atoms in the silicides during oxidation are analyzed. It is suggested that the relation between electron concentrations and oxidation rates is related to the decomposition of oxygen molecules.

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