Proof of damage-free selective removal of thin dielectric coatings on silicon wafers by irradiation with femtosecond laser pulses
The microstructural impact of selective femtosecond laser ablation of thin dielectric layers from monocrystalline silicon wafers was investigated. Various spots opened by 280 fs laser pulses at lambda = 1.03 µm wavelength and 50 fs pulses at 800 nm, respectively, were analyzed in detail using Raman and transmission electron microscopy. The results show clearly that the thin dielectric films can be removed without any detectable modification of the Si crystal structure in the opened area. In contrast, in adjacent regions corresponding to laser fluence slightly below the breaking threshold, a thin layer of amorphous silicon with a maximum thickness of about 50 nm is found at the Si/SiO2 interface after laser irradiation. More than one pulse on the same position, however, causes structural modification of the silicon after thin film ablation in any case.