A method for enhancing the equilibrium solid solubility of dopants in silicon, germanium and silicon-germanium alloys. The method involves subjecting silicon-based substrate to biaxial or compression strain. It has been determined that boron solubility was largely enhanced (more than 100%) by a compressive bi-axial strain, based on a size-mismatch theory since the boron atoms are smaller than the silicon atoms. It has been found that the large enhancement or mixing properties of dopants in silicon and germanium substrates is primarily governed by their, and to second order by their size-mismatch with the substrate. Further, it has been determined that the dopant solubility enhancement with strain is most effective when the charge and the size-mismatch of the impurity favor the same type of strain. Thus, the solid solubility of small p-type (e.g., boron) as well as large n-type (e.g., arsenic) dopants can be raised most dramatically by appropriate bi-axial (compressive) strain, and that solubility of a large p-type dopant (e.g, indium) in silicon will be raised due to size-mismatch with silicon, which favors tensile strain, while its negative charge prefers compressive strain, and thus the two effects counteract each other.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.