First principles study of point-like defects and impurities in silicon, carbon, and oxide materials
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Since materials properties are determined by the interactions between the constituent atoms, an accurate description of the inter-atomic interactions is crucial to characterize and control material properties. Particularly, a quantitative understanding of the formation and nature of defects and impurities becomes increasingly important in the era of nanotechnology, as the imperfections largely influence many properties of nanoscale materials. Indeed, due to its technological importance and scientific interest, there have been significant efforts to better understand their behavior in semiconductors and oxides, and their interfaces, yet many fundamental aspects are still ambiguous due largely to the difficulty of direct characterization. Hence, our study has focused on developing a better understanding of atomic-scale defects and impurities using first principles quantum mechanical calculations. In addition, based on the improved understanding, we have attempted to address some engineering problems encountered in the current technology. The first part of this thesis focuses on mechanisms underlying the transient enhanced diffusion of arsenic (As) during post-implantation annealing by examining the interaction of As with vacancies in silicon. In the second part, we address some fundamental features related to plasma-assisted nitridation of silicon dioxide; this study shows that oxygen vacancy related defects play an important role in (experimentally observed) peculiar nitridation at the Si/SiO2 interface during post O2 annealing. In the third part, we examine the interaction between vacancies and dopants in sp2–bonded carbon such as graphene and nanotube, specifically the formation and dynamics of boron-vacancy complexes and their influence on the electrical properties of host materials. In the fourth part, we study the interfacial interaction between amorphous silica (a-SiO2) and graphene in the presence of surface defects in a-SiO2; this study shows possible modifications in the electronic structure of graphene upon the surface defect assisted chemical binding onto the a-SiO2 surface. In the last part, we examine the structural and electronic properties of bismuth vanadate (BiVO4) which is a promising photocatalyst for water splitting to produce hydrogen; this study successfully explains the underlying mechanism of the interesting photocatalytic performance of BiVO4 that has been experimentally found to strongly depend on structural phase and doping.