Formation of hexagonal silicon carbide by high energy ion beam irradiation on Si (1 0 0) substrate

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We report the investigation of high energy ion beam irradiation on Si (1 0 0) substrates at room temperature using a low energy plasma focus (PF) device operating in methane gas. The unexposed and ion exposed substrates were characterized by x-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), photothermal beam deflection, energy-dispersive x-ray analysis and atomic force microscopy (AFM) and the results are reported. The interaction of the pulsed PF ion beams, with characteristic energy in the 60–450 keV range, with the Si surface, results in the formation of a surface layer of hexagonal silicon carbide. The SEM and AFM analyses indicate clear step bunching on the silicon carbide surface with an average step height of 50 nm and a terrace width of 800 nm.