Masking effect of copper during anisotropic etching of silicon in buffered hydrofluoric acid solutions

Guangming Li, Jun Jiao, Supapan Seraphin, Srini Raghavan, Joong S. Jeon

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16 Scopus citations


The etching characteristics of silicon samples of (100) orientation in buffered hydrofluoric acid (BHF) solutions containing different levels of dissolved copper were studied systematically using atomic force microscopy, total reflection x-ray fluorescence, inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy techniques. It was found that the presence of trace amounts of copper ions in BHF solutions can cause not only metallic contamination but also very severe surface roughness. Copper deposits onto the silicon surfaces in the form of submonoatomic layer clusters which act as masks during silicon anisotropic etching in BHF solutions. Surface roughness as high as 12 nm was generated in 30 min of etching in buffered hydrofluoric acid solution containing 100 ppb Cu2+. Cross-sectional TEM micrographs showed that silicon was etched anisotropically in BHF solutions containing Cu 2+ ions. Etching rates as high as 1.0 nm/min were obtained on the (100) planes of p-type silicon in the presence of a 100 ppb Cu2+. The size of the etching structures depends on the Cu2+ concentration in solution and the etching time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1857-1863
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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