We used our etching simulator [H. Ito et al., J. Phys. Chem. C, 2014, 118, 21580-21588] based on tight-binding quantum chemical molecular dynamics (TB-QCMD) to elucidate SiC etching mechanisms. First, the SiC surface is irradiated with SF5 radicals, which are the dominant etchant species in experiments, with the irradiation energy of 300 eV. After SF5 radicals bombard the SiC surface, Si-C bonds dissociate, generating Si-F, C-F, Si-S, and C-S bonds. Then, etching products, such as SiS, CS, SiFx, and CFx (x = 1-4) molecules, are generated and evaporated. In particular, SiFx is the main generated species, and Si atoms are more likely to vaporize than C atoms. The remaining C atoms on SiC generate C-C bonds that may decrease the etching rate. Interestingly, far fewer Si-Si bonds than C-C bonds are generated. We also simulated SiC etching with SF3 radicals. Although the chemical reaction dynamics are similar to etching with SF5 radicals, the etching rate is lower. Next, to clarify the effect of O atom addition on the etching mechanism, we also simulated SiC etching with SF5 and O radicals/atoms. After bombardment with SF5 radicals, Si-C bonds dissociate in a similar way to the etching without O atoms. In addition, O atoms generate many C-O bonds and COy (y = 1-2) molecules, inhibiting the generation of C-C bonds. This indicates that O atom addition improves the removal of C atoms from SiC. However, for a high O concentration, many C-C and Si-Si bonds are generated. When the O atoms dissociate the Si-C bonds and generate dangling bonds, the O atoms terminate only one or two dangling bonds. Moreover, at high O concentrations there are fewer S and F atoms to terminate the dangling bonds than at low O concentration. Therefore, few dangling bonds of dissociated Si and C atoms are terminated, and they form many Si-Si and C-C bonds. Furthermore, we propose that the optimal O concentration is 50-60% because both Si and C atoms generate many etching products producing fewer C-C and Si-Si bonds are generated. Finally, we conclude that our TB-QCMD etching simulator is effective for designing the optimal conditions for etching processes in which chemical reactions play a significant role.
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