Silicon dioxide films have been deposited at low pressure (a few millitorr) and low substrate temperature (<200 °C) by oxygen/silane helicon diffusion radio frequency plasmas. High deposition rates (20–80 nm/min) are achieved at 800 W rf source power. The effect of the oxygen/silane flow rate ratio (R) on the film properties has been investigated: characterization of the deposited films has been carried out by insitu ellipsometry, exsitu Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, Rutherford backscattering, x‐ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and chemical etch rate measurements (P etch) and the results have been compared to thermally grown oxide. The deposition kinetics has a great effect on the internal film structure: for films presenting a good stoichiometry ([O]/[Si]≥1.95 for R≥3), a decrease in the deposition rate is accompanied by a decrease of the refractive index, P‐etch rate and XPS line width and by an increase of the Si–O stretching peak frequency toward the thermal oxide respective values. A sufficient oxygen/silane flow rate ratio (R=10) leads to stoichiometric films which exhibit good optical properties. Small differences in the P‐etch rate, XPS linewidth, and infrared stretching peak frequency are still observed between our stoichiometric plasma deposited film and a thermally grown oxide film.  

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