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Surface layer impurities on silicon spheres used in determination of the Avogadro constant

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4 Author(s)
Kenny, M.J. ; CSIRO Telecommun. & Ind. Phys., Lindfield, NSW, Australia ; Netterfield, R.P. ; Wielunski, Leszek S. ; Beaglehole, D.

The Avogadro constant is required to be determined with an uncertainty of less than 1×10-8 in order to allow an atomic definition of the kilogram. A single-crystal silicon sphere 93.6 mm diameter is used for this determination. A thin surface layer (typically 2 nm to 5 nm thick on flats and 10 nm or more on spheres) of contaminants such as oxide, water and hydrocarbons on the sphere can significantly affect the measurements due to corrections for density changes and to phase change on reflection in the diameter measurement by optical interferometry. The stability of this surface layer as a function of time is also of importance because of ongoing measurements. The nature of this contamination has been investigated using optical ellipsometry and ion beam analysis. It is concluded that the composition and structure of the surface layer are affected by a number of parameters and that the most appropriate method of achieving the desired accuracy is to remove the surface layer by etching and to form a hard stable coating of controlled thickness and composition. This coating may be either silicon dioxide or silicon nitride

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Instrumentation and Measurement, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:48 ,  Issue: 2 )