Amorphous carbon (a-C) nanoclusters were synthesized by the implantation of carbon ions (C−) into thermally grown silicon dioxide film (∼500 nm thick) on a Si (100) wafer and processed by high temperature thermal annealing. The carbon ions were implanted with an
energy of 70 keV at a fluence of 5 × 1017 atoms/cm2. The implanted samples were annealed at 1100 °C for different time periods in a gas mixture of 96% Ar+4% H2. Raman spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and High Resolution Transmission
Electron Microscopy (HRTEM) were used to study the structural properties of both the as-implanted and annealed samples. HRTEM reveals the formation of nanostructures in the annealed samples. The Raman spectroscopy also confirms the formation of carbon nano-clusters in the samples annealed
for 10 min, 30 min, 60 min and 90 min. No Raman features originating from the carbon-clusters are observed for the sample annealed further to 120 min, indicating a complete loss of implanted carbon from the SiO2 layer. The loss of the implanted carbon in the 120 min annealed sample
from the SiO2 layer was also observed in the XPS depth profile measurements. Room temperature photoluminescence (PL) spectroscopy revealed visible emissions from the samples pointing to carbon ion induced defects as the origin of a broad 2.0–2.4 eV band, and the intrinsic
defects in SiO2 as the possible origin of the ∼2.9 eV bands. In low temperature photoluminescence spectra, two sharp and intense photoluminescence lines at ∼3.31 eV and ∼3.34 eV appear for the samples annealed for 90 min and 120 min, whereas no such bands are observed
in the samples annealed for 10 min, 30 min, and 60 min. The Si nano-clusters forming at the Si–SiO2 interface could be the origin of these intense peaks.
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