Silicon nitride films are prepared by helium‐excited magnetron radio‐frequency sputtering. Excitation energy transfer from He to N2 and existence of hydrogenation and oxidation source (O+ and OH⋅) in the plasmas are confirmed by optical emission spectroscopy. The structure and characteristics of the resultant films depend on the gas pressure during sputtering: Films produced at pressures above 5 Pa are etched rapidly in a buffered hydrogen fluoride solution and have low refractive indices because their structure is coarse and rich in oxygen and hydrogen or both.

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