M Agati, S Boninelli, C Calabretta, F Mancarella, M Mauceri, D Crippa, M Albani, R Bergamaschini, L Miglio, F La Via
Materials & Design

In this paper we report the morphology and the microstructural properties of thick [111]-oriented 3C-SiC films epitaxially grown on T-shaped Si micropillars. This compliant substrate is designed to release the stress developed in 3C-SiC grown on Si, due to the lattice mismatch and the different thermal expansion coefficients between 3C-SiC and Si. In this way it was possible to have 3C-SiC films as thick as 10 and 16 µm, with small bowing and no cracks. Our study relies on the use of an Electron Microscopy approach and elucidates the structure of the crystallographic defects across the 3C-SiC film, such as stacking faults (SFs), nano-twins and grain boundaries (GBs). After examination of the morphological and structural characteristics of the Si micropillar array, we analyzed the crystallographic properties of the thin 3C-SiC deposit on the Si micropillar sidewalls, since it may have an impact on the upper film. To assess the crystal quality of the 3C-SiC film, we quantified the SF density at the 3C-SiC surface, even estimating semi-quantitatively the depletion of SFs at much larger thickness. Hence, we analyzed the regions where 3C-SiC microcrystals grown on neighboring Si micropillars coalesce and form a continuous layer. We found that the coalescence between adjacent 3C-SiC microcrystals produces twinned regions, which terminate with the formation of GBs. We noticed that SFs may annihilate at the GBs, leading to the SF reduction across the 3C-SiC film. Finally, we observe the closure of the GBs inside the 3C-SiC film, thus improving the crystal quality of its surface. This work endorses the use of Si micropillars as compliant substrate to grow thick [111]-oriented 3C-SiC films with good crystal quality and is preliminary to the exploitation of 3C-SiC for high performing microelectronic devices.