Pattern formation in SiSb system

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Thermal annealing of Si/Si 1-xSb x/Si amorphous thin-film tri-layer samples (x=18 and 24 at%Sb) under 100 bar Ar pressure results in an interesting pattern formation. In pictures, taken by means of cross-sectional transmission electron microscopy, stripe-shaped contrast, with three maxima, parallel to the interfaces can be seen. Secondary neutral mass spectrometer measurements revealed that the regions with different contrasts correspond to Sb-rich and Sb-depleted regions. Furthermore, the Sb concentration peaks in the Sb-rich regions, especially at longer annealing times, are different: the peak developed at the Si/SiSb interface closer to the free surface decays faster than that of the inner one closer to the substrate. The pattern formation is interpreted by segregation-initiated spinodal-like decomposition, while the difference of the Sb concentration peaks is explained by the resultant Sb transport to and evaporation from the free surface. The possible role of formation of nanocrystalline grains, in the explanation of the fast transport under pressure as compared to vacuum is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-173
Number of pages6
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 14 2005



  • Amorphous SiSb alloy
  • Crystallization
  • Decomposition
  • Segregation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films

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