Regular step formation on concave-shaped surfaces on 6H-SiC(0001)
A concave-shaped surface has been prepared in a 6H-SiC(0001) substrate by mechanical grinding. As a consequence, the different crystallographic planes building up the 6H-SiC polytype are cut under continuously changing polar angles in all azimuthal directions. Through hydrogen etching, this curved surface breaks, up into a whole set of surfaces vicinal to the initial 6H(0001) orientation. The local structural reorganisation after hydrogen etching has been studied by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). Two types of local bond environments are present at the step edges leading to a strong anisotropy in the surface etching with hydrogen. As a result, the distribution of the terrace width and the step heights varies with the azimuthal angle and reflects the sixfold symmetry of the bulk crystal. For most azimuthal directions, an alternation of large and small terraces, separated by steps of 0.75 nm heights (height of half the 6H polytype, three bilayers) is observed and only for well defined azimuthal directions, equally spaced terraces separated by steps of 1.5 run height (one unit cell of 6H-SiC, six bilayers) are found. In addition, the polar variations have been studied by taking various line-scans along the concave-shaped surface with AFM. It seems that for polar angles above 3degrees, step bunching of several SiC steps occurs whereas below 3degrees the bimodal terrace width distribution is observed. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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