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Scanning tunneling microscopy of buried dopants in silicon: images and their uncertainties



Garnett W. Bryant, Piotr Rozanski, Michal Zielinski


The ability to uniquely determine the locations of phosphorous dopants in silicon is crucial for the design and scaling of nanoscale devices for future quantum computing applications. In recent years, several papers showed that metrology combining scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) imaging with an atomistic tight-binding approach could be used to determine the exact coordinates of the dopant in the Si crystal. However, in this work, we demonstrate that such an approach may lead to a pronounced error bar for the determination of dopant depth. Moreover, for the same STM image as analyzed in previous work, we obtain a match with a tip orbital of dfferent symmetry. Additionally, we present a detailed study of various effects included in modeling of dopants and identify those which play a crucial role in the simulation, and have to be precisely accounted for in order for the multi-dopant metrology to work. Finally, we show that optimizing Slater orbitals' exponents is a key step to better agreement between simulated and experimental STM images.
npj Computational Materials


scanning tunneling microscopy, imaging. silicon, dopants


Bryant, G. , Rozanski, P. and Zielinski, M. (2022), Scanning tunneling microscopy of buried dopants in silicon: images and their uncertainties, npj Computational Materials, [online],, (Accessed July 21, 2024)


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Created August 23, 2022, Updated August 3, 2023