Ellipsometric characterization of inhomogeneous thin films with complicated thickness non-uniformity: application to inhomogeneous polymer-like thin films

Opt Express. 2020 Nov 23;28(24):36796-36811. doi: 10.1364/OE.412043.


The method of variable angle spectroscopic ellipsometry usable for the complete optical characterization of inhomogeneous thin films exhibiting complicated thickness non-uniformity together with transition layers at their lower boundaries is presented in this paper. The inhomogeneity of these films is described by means of the multiple-beam interference model. The thickness non-uniformity is taken into account by averaging the elements of the Mueller matrix along the area of the light spot of the ellipsometer on the films. The local thicknesses are expressed using polynomials in the coordinates along the surfaces of the films. The efficiency of the method is illustrated by means of the optical characterization of a selected sample of the polymer-like thin film of SiOxCyHz prepared by plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition onto the silicon single crystal substrate. The Campi-Coriasso dispersion model is used to determine the spectral dependencies of the optical constants at the upper and lower boundaries of this film. The profiles of these optical constants are determined too. The thickness non-uniformity is described using a model with local thicknesses given by the polynomial with at most quadratic terms. In this way it is possible to determine the geometry of the upper boundary. The thickness and spectral dependencies of the optical constants of the transition layer are determined as well. Imaging spectroscopic reflectometry is utilized for confirming the results concerning the thickness non-uniformity obtained using ellipsometry.