Low-temperature direct bonding of silicon nitride to glass
Direct bonding may provide a cheap and reliable alternative to the use of adhesives. While direct bonding of two silicon surfaces is well documented, not much is known about direct bonding between silicon nitride and glass. This is unfortunate since silicon nitride is extensively used as an anti-reflection coating in the PV industry, often in contact with a shielding layer made of glass. A series of bonding experiments between glass and SiN was performed. The highest bonding quality, manifested by the highest bonding energy and lowest void area, was obtained with pairs that had been activated by nitrogen plasma followed by post-contact thermal annealing at 400 °C. HRTEM imaging, HRTEM-EDS and EELS measurements performed on the thin films prepared from bonded samples by Focused Ion Beam (FIB) revealed a clear defect-free interface between the silicon nitride and the glass, 4 nm in thickness. ATR FT-IR measurements performed on activated surfaces prior to contact indicated the formation of silanol groups on the activated glass surface and a thin oxide layer on the silicon nitride. An increase in the bearing ratio of the glass following activation was noticed by AFM. A mechanism for bonding silicon nitride and glass is suggested, based on generation of silanol groups on the glass surface and on oxidation of the silicon nitride surface. The results point out the importance of exposure to air, following activation and prior to bringing the two surfaces into contact.