Diffusion of Water Molecules in Amorphous Silica


The diffusive penetration of atmospheric water vapor into amorphous silica ( $hbox{a-SiO}_{2}$) degrades the performance of electronic devices. In this letter, we calculate the range of activation energies for water diffusion in $hbox{a-SiO}_{2}$ such that the diffusion time through, for example, a 0.5-$muhbox{m}$ protective layer is on the order of the decadal time scale, as required in typical applications. We find that for all practical purposes, silica composed of $n$ -member rings is impenetrable to water vapor for $n leq hbox{5}$ . Thus, we conclude that the distribution of $n$-member rings in $hbox{a-SiO}_{2}$ and, specifically, the $n > hbox{5}$ fraction is the critical parameter for predicting device performance.

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