Silicon oxynitride thin films are prepared by ion-beam sputtering, and the optical properties and surface chemical composition are studied by spectrophotometric and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, respectively. It is seen that the films sputtered by use of nitrogen alone as the sputtering species from a silicon nitride target are completely transparent (k < 0.005) and have a refractive-index dispersion from 1.85 to 1.71 over the visible and near-infrared spectral regions, and the films show distinct spectral lines that are due to silicon, Si(2s), nitrogen, N(1s), and oxygen, O(1s). Sputter deposition of argon and of argon and nitrogen produces silicon-rich silicon oxynitride films that are absorbent and have high refractive indices. These films have a direct electronic transition, with a threshold energy of 1.75 eV. Electron irradiation transforms optically transparent silicon oxynitride films into silicon-rich silicon oxynitride films that have higher refractive indices and are optically absorbing owing to the presence of nonsaturated silicon in the irradiated films. The degradation in current responsivity of silicon photodetectors, under electron irradiation, is within 3% over the wavelength region from 450 to 750 nm, which is entirely due to the degradation of optical properties of silicon oxynitride antireflection coatings.
© 2005 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: January 3, 2005
Revised Manuscript: May 9, 2005
Manuscript Accepted: May 10, 2005
Published: October 10, 2005
Shivaprasad Karanth, Ganesh H. Shanbhogue, and C. L. Nagendra, "Effect of high-energy electron-beam irradiation on the optical properties of ion-beam-sputtered silicon oxynitride thin films," Appl. Opt. 44, 6186-6192 (2005)