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Microstructure, surface roughness, morphology, defect spectrum, and low-temperature photoluminescence of thin (10–125 nm) strained Si1-xGex layers (0.1≤x≤0.3), deposited by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) at 650 °C on silicon wafers have been studied. Nominally undoped layers with crystalline orientations of <100> and <111> have been investigated. Local strain within the layers was estimated from x-ray diffraction data. It decreases with the layer thickness in the <100>-oriented samples, but rises in the <111>-oriented ones. Nanoscale (∼10–30 nm) and microscale (∼0.2–1 μm) morphologies have been found on the surface of the Si1-xGex layers by atomic-force microscopy. The lateral sizes of the morphologies and surface roughness depend on the thickness, germanium concentration x, and crystalline orientation of the layers. The spectrum of defect states N(E) in the band gap of these samples has been experimentally studied by the deep-level-transient-spectroscopy (DLTS) technique. The standard D1(P1), D2, P3, and P4 defect peaks were observed. The N(E) spectrum is strongly influenced by germanium concentration, crystalline orientation, and surface roughness of the films (especially at Ec-E≪0.4 eV). Photoluminescence (PL) was excited with argon ion (Ar+) laser at a sample temperature of about 5 K. Both “no-phonon” and phonon-assisted PL peaks around 1.1 eV, as well as a strong peak at 0.80 eV were observed. These - peaks originated, respectively, from the no-phonon line from the Si substrate, transverse optical/acoustical phonon replica and dislocation-related Si1-xGex band, D1. Intensities of these PL peaks are influenced by the layer thickness, internal strain, surface roughness, and germanium concentration x. Possible mechanisms of relationship between the local strain, film roughness, the defect spectrum N(E), and the D1 line strength are discussed. © 2004 American Institute of Physics.
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