Diffusion of heavy noble gas atoms in irradiation damaged single crystalline silicon carbide and the thermal
etching of it is investigated at temperatures of 1300 C and 1400 C. For this purpose 360 keV krypton
and xenon ions were implanted in commercial 6H-SiC wafers at 600 C, which is far above the critical
amorphization temperature of the target material. Width broadening of the implantation profiles and
the retention of krypton and xenon during isothermal annealing was determined by RBS-analysis, whilst
damage profiles were simultaneously obtained by a-particle channelling. No diffusion and no loss of the
implanted species is detected in the implanted samples after isothermal annealing for 40 h at 1400 C.
However, thermal etching of the target material is observed at both annealing temperatures and leads
at 1400 C to a significant shift of the implantation profile towards the surface due to sublimation. RBS
analysis shows that this occurs mainly during the initial stage of isothermal annealing, while surface loss
during prolonged annealing is minimal. The resulting topographical modification of the surface during
annealing was studied by scanning electron and atomic force microscopy. It indicates that the observed
phenomenon is due to a relatively strong dependence of thermal etching on the defect density in the surface
region, while the evolving surface roughness seems not to play a decisive role.