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A Systematic Study of Plasma Activation of Silicon Surfaces for Self Assembly

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journal contribution
posted on 18.11.2015, 00:00 by Savas Kaya, Parthiban Rajan, Harshita Dasari, David C. Ingram, Wojciech Jadwisienczak, Faiz Rahman
We study the plasma activation systematically in an attempt to simplify and optimize the formation of hydrophilic silicon (Si) surface critical for self-assembly of nanostructures that typically uses piranha solution, a high molarity cocktail of sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide at elevated temperatures. In the proposed safer and simpler approach, O2 plasma is used under optimized process conditions in a capacitively coupled parallel-plate chamber to induce strong hydrophilic behavior on silicon surfaces associated with the formation of suboxide groups. Surface activation is validated and studied via contact angle measurements as well as XPS spectra and consequently optimized using a novel atomic force spectroscopy approach, which can streamline characterization. It is found that plasma power around 100 W and exposure duration of ∼65 s are the most effective parameters to enhance surface activation for the reactive ion etcher system used. Other optimum plasma process conditions for pressure and flow-rate are also reported along with temporal development of activation, which peaks within 1 h and wears off in 24 h scale in air. The applicability of the plasma approach to nanoassembly process was demonstrated using simple drop coating and spinning of polystyrene (d < 500 nm, 2.5–4.5% w/v) and inkjet printing on polydimethylsiloxane.