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Limitations of X-ray reflectometry in the presenceof surface contamination



Donald A. Windover, David L. Gil


Intentionally deposited thin films exposed to atmosphere often develop unintentionally deposited few monolayer films of surface contamination. This contamination arises from the diverse population of volatile organics and inorganics in the atmosphere. Such surface contamination can effect the uncertainties in determination of thickness, roughness and density of thin film structures by X- Ray Reflectometry (XRR). Here we study the effect of a 0.5 nm carbon surface contamination layer on thickness determination for a 20 nm titanium nitride thin film on silicon. Uncertainties calculated using Markov-Chain Monte Carlo Bayesian statistical methods from simulated data of clean and contaminated TiN thin films are compared at varying degrees of data quality to study (1) whether synchrotron sources cope better with contamination than laboratory sources and (2) whether cleaning off the surface of thin films prior to XRR measurement is necessary. We show that, surprisingly, contributions to uncertainty from surface contamination can dominate uncertainty estimates, leading to minimal advantages in using synchrotron- over laboratory-intensity data. Further, even prior knowledge of the exact nature of the surface contamination does not significantly reduce the contamination's contribution to the uncertainty in the TiN layer thickness. We conclude, then, that effective and standardized cleaning protocols are necessary to achieve high levels of accuracy in XRR measurement.
Journal of Physics D-Applied Physics


thickness, uncertainty, X-ray reflectometry, Bayesian, Monte-Carlo


Windover, D. and Gil, D. (2012), Limitations of X-ray reflectometry in the presenceof surface contamination, Journal of Physics D-Applied Physics, [online], (Accessed May 20, 2024)


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Created June 13, 2012, Updated November 10, 2018