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Athermal annealing of pre-existing defects in crystalline silicon

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Acta Materialia
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Systematic investigations of electronic energy loss (Se) effects on pre-existing defects in crystalline silicon (Si) are crucial to provide reliance on the use of ionizing irradiation to anneal pre-existing defects, leading to successful implementation of this technology in the fabrication of Si-based devices. In this regard, the Se effects on nonequilibrium defect evolution in pre-damaged Si single crystals at 300 K has been investigated using intermediate-energy ions (12 MeV O and Si ions) that interact with the pre-damaged surface layers of Si mainly by ionization, except at the end of their range where the nuclear energy loss (Sn) is no longer negligible. Under these irradiation conditions, experimental results and molecular dynamics simulations have revealed that pre-existing disorder in Si can be almost fully annealed by subsequent irradiation with intermediate-energy incident ions with Se values as low as 1.5–3.0 keV/nm. Selective annealing of pre-existing defect levels in Si at room temperature can be considered as an effective strategy to mediate the transient enhanced diffusion of dopants in Si. This approach is more desirable than the regular thermal annealing, which is not compatible with the processing requirements that fall below the typical thermal budget.