Structure, vibrations and electronic transport in silicon suboxides: Application to physical unclonable functions

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DFT, Molecular dynamics, PUF, Silicon, Suboxides, Tersoff


This work focuses on the structure and electronic transport in atomistic models of silicon suboxides (a-SiOx; x = 1.3,1.5 and 1.7) used in the fabrication of a Physical Unclonable Function (PUF) devices. Molecular dynamics and density functional theory simulations were used to obtain the structural, electronic, and vibrational properties that contribute to electronic transport in a-SiOx. The percentage of Si-[Si1, O3] and Si-[Si3, O1], observed in a-SiO1.3, decrease with increasing O ratio. Vibrations in a-SiOx showed peaks that result from topological defects. The electronic conduction path in a-SiOx favored Si-rich regions and Si atoms with dangling bonds formed charge-trapping sites. For doped a-SiOx, the type of doping results in new conduction paths, hence qualifying a-SiOx as a viable candidate for PUF fabrication as reported by Kozicki [Patent-Publication-No.: US2021/0175185A1, 2021].