Date of Award

Summer 2008

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical/Computer Engineering

Committee Director

Hani Elsayed-Ali

Committee Member

Sacharia Albin

Committee Member

Julie Hao

Committee Member

Tamer Refaat


Study of the effects of atomic hydrogen exposure on structure and morphology of semiconductor surfaces is important for fundamental properties and applications. In this dissertation, the electron yield of a hydrogen-cleaned indium phosphide (InP) surface was measured and correlated to the development of the surface morphology, which was monitored by in situ reflection high-energy electron diffraction (RHEED). Atomic hydrogen treatment produced a clean, well-ordered, and (2x4)-reconstructed InP(100) surface. The quantum efficiency, after activation to negative electron affinity, and the secondary electron emission were shown to increase with hydrogen cleaning time. RHEED patterns of low-index InP(100) surface were modified by the step structure and resulted in splitting of the specular beam at the out-of-phase diffraction condition. Quantitative RHEED showed reduction in the average terrace width and a decrease of the adatom-vacancy density with hydrogen exposure. This suggests that atomic hydrogen etching occurs preferentially at terrace edges, and thermal diffusion on the surface causes changes in the terrace edge morphology, which result in the observed decrease in the average terrace width. The results show that the decrease in the surface disorder, measured from the RHEED intensity-to-background ratio, correlated with the increased quantum efficiency.

The growth of group-III metals on Si surfaces has become an attractive area of research because of its scientific importance and great potential in technological applications. In this work, the growth dynamics, structure, and morphology of indium (In) on a vicinal Si(100)-(2×1) surface by femtosecond pulsed laser deposition (fsPLD) were studied using in situ RHEED and ex situ atomic force microscopy. Indium was found to grow on Si(100) by the Stranski-Krastanove mode. At room temperature, the initial growth formed strained two-dimensional (2D) layers in the In(2×1) structure followed by growth of three-dimensional islands. During the 2D growth, the surface diffusion coefficient of deposited In on the In(2×1) layer was estimated to be in the order of 10−14 cm2/s, from recovery of the RHEED intensity. This was attributed to surface diffusion of In clusters by step flow mode. The results suggest that fsPLD of In removed the reconstruction of the Si(100)-(2×1) surface in the early growth and resulted in the initial In(2x1) structure. Next, growth of In on Si(100)-(2×1) was studied at temperature of 350–420°C and showed formation of In(4×3) structure. The growth stages, probed by RHEED intensity relaxation, proceed in a two-step process, formation of small In clusters and surface diffusion to the terrace step edges with activation energy of 1.4±0.2 eV and diffusion rate constant of 1.0±0.1x1011 s −1. The terrace width dynamics and the related surface processes were studied during growth of the In(4×3) phase with increase in film coverage. Finally, the fsPLD was used to grow nitride films of InN on Si(100) substrates. A buffer layer of In was grown on Si(100) by fsPLD prior to growth of InN and different nitridation procedures were used.