Dry-etch of As2S3 thin films for optical waveguide fabrication

Weitang Li*, Yinlan Ruan, Barry Luther-Davies, Andrei Rode, Rod Boswell

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    37 Citations (Scopus)


    Plasma etching to As2 S3 thin films for optical waveguide fabrication has been studied using a helicon plasma etcher. The etching effects using the processing gases or gas mixtures of O2, Ar, and C F4 were compared. It was found that the O2 plasma had no chemical etching effect to the As2 S3, but it could oxidize the surface of the As2 S3. The Ar plasma provided a strong ion sputtering effect to the films. The C F4 plasma exhibited a too strong chemical etch to the As2 S3, leading to serious undercutting and very rough sidewalls of the waveguides. Ar and O2 gases were compared as the additives to dilute the C F4 processing gas. The etch rate of the As2 S3 was reduced dramatically from over 2000 nmmin to a few hundred nm/min when the pure C F4 gas was heavily diluted with 70% Ar or O2 gas. The undercutting and sidewall roughness of the etched waveguides were also decreased greatly when above dilution was made, which was associated with an enormous weakening of the isotropic chemical etch induced by neutral reactants in the plasma. In addition, the O2 showed a better dilution effect than the Ar in reducing the etch rate of the As2 S3; and the O2 C F4 plasma also enabled a much lower erosion rate to Al mask layers than the ArC F4 plasma at similar plasma conditions. The As2 S3 waveguides with near vertical and very smooth sidewalls were obtained using an optimized O2 C F4 plasma. Moreover, the etching behaviors and mechanisms were explained base on the etching results, and on the characteristics of the applied plasma diagnosed using Langmuir probe and optical spectroscopy techniques.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1626-1632
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Vacuum Science and Technology A: Vacuum, Surfaces and Films
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005


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