When a thin gold layer is deposited onto the native oxide of a silicon wafer and is annealed at temperatures greater than 600 degrees C, peculiar circular features, few micrometers in diameter, with a regular polygon at the centre of each circle, reminiscent of so called "alien" crop circles, can be observed. A model has been recently proposed in Matthews et al. El], where the formation of such circular structures is attributed to the interdiffusion of gold and silicon through holes in the native oxide induced by the weakening of the amorphous silica matrix occurring during the annealing process. The rupture of the liquid Au/Si eutectic disc surrounding the pinhole in the oxide causes the debris to be pulled to the edges of the disk, forming Au droplets around it and leaving an empty zone of bare silicon oxide. In this paper, we present a morphological study and a RBS/PIXE analyses of these circular structures, carried out by scanning electron microscopy and by 4 MeV C microbeam, respectively. The results confirm the depletion of gold in the denuded circular zones, and the presence of gold droplets in the centers, which can be attributed to the Au segregation occurring during the cooling stage.

Micro-IBA analysis of Au/Si eutectic "crop-circles"

BATTIATO, ALFIO;VITTONE, Ettore
2015-01-01

Abstract

When a thin gold layer is deposited onto the native oxide of a silicon wafer and is annealed at temperatures greater than 600 degrees C, peculiar circular features, few micrometers in diameter, with a regular polygon at the centre of each circle, reminiscent of so called "alien" crop circles, can be observed. A model has been recently proposed in Matthews et al. El], where the formation of such circular structures is attributed to the interdiffusion of gold and silicon through holes in the native oxide induced by the weakening of the amorphous silica matrix occurring during the annealing process. The rupture of the liquid Au/Si eutectic disc surrounding the pinhole in the oxide causes the debris to be pulled to the edges of the disk, forming Au droplets around it and leaving an empty zone of bare silicon oxide. In this paper, we present a morphological study and a RBS/PIXE analyses of these circular structures, carried out by scanning electron microscopy and by 4 MeV C microbeam, respectively. The results confirm the depletion of gold in the denuded circular zones, and the presence of gold droplets in the centers, which can be attributed to the Au segregation occurring during the cooling stage.
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Dewetting; Gold/silicon eutectic; Micro-Ion Beam Analysis; Thin films; Instrumentation; Nuclear and High Energy Physics
Amato, Giampiero; Battiato, Alfio; Croin, Luca; Jaksic, Milko; Siketic, Zdravko; Vignolo, Umberto; Vittone, Ettore
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2318/1572071
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