The defect generation and recovery at the SiO 2/Si interface are studied in argon (Ar) plasma irradiation and consecutive annealing. The defects are generated by the Ar plasma irradiation and recovered by annealing. The recovery of defects strongly depends on the origins of defect generation, i.e., photon irradiation or ion bombardment. The photon-induced defects are nearly fully recovered by annealing at 300  °C, whereas the ion-induced defects are not sufficiently recovered. With high-energy bombardments of ions at 200 eV, the residual defects are created at the 5 nm-thick thermal-SiO 2/Si interface. The ion energy should be properly controlled in plasma processing for high-performance device fabrication.

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