Ion implantation

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Ion implantation is a materials engineering process by which ions of a material are accelerated in an electrical field and impacted into another solid. This process is used to change the physical, chemical, or electrical properties of the solid. Ion implantation is used in semiconductor device fabrication and in metal finishing, as well as various applications in materials science research. The ions can introduce both a chemical change in the target, in that they can introduce a different element than the target or induce a nuclear transmutation, and a structural change, in that the crystal structure of the target can be damaged or even destroyed by the energetic collision cascades.

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General principle

Ion implantation equipment typically consists of an ion source, where ions of the desired element are produced, an accelerator, where the ions are electrostatically accelerated to a high energy, and a target chamber, where the ions impinge on a target, which is the material to be implanted. Thus ion implantation is a special case of particle radiation. Each ion is typically a single atom or molecule, and thus the actual amount of material implanted in the target is the integral over time of the ion current. This amount is called the dose. The currents supplied by implanters are typically small (microamperes), and thus the dose which can be implanted in a reasonable amount of time is small. Therefore, ion implantation finds application in cases where the amount of chemical change required is small.

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