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CMP Slurry Trade-offs in R&D

As covered at SemiMD.com, the CMP Users Group (of the Northern California Chapter of The American Vacuum Society) recently held a meeting in Albany, New York in collaboration with CNSE, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and SEMATECH. Among the presentations were deep dives into the inherent challenges of CMP slurry R&D.
Daniel Dickmann of Ferro Corporation discussed trade-offs in designing CMP slurries in his presentation, “Advances in Ceria Slurries to Address Challenges in Fabricating Next Generation Devices.” Adding H2O2 to ceria slurry dramatically alters the zeta-potential of the particles and thereby alters the removal rates and selectivities. For CMP of Shallow Trench Isolation (STI) structures, adding H2O2 to the slurry allows for lowering of the particle concentration from 4% to <2% while maintaining the same removal rate. Reducing the average ceria particle size from 130nm to 70nm results in a reduction in scratch defects while maintaining the same removal rate by tuning the chemistry, but the company has not yet found chemistries that allow for reasonable removal rates with 40nm diameter particles. The ceria morphology is another variable that must be controlled according to Dickmann, “It can seem counter-intuitive, but we’ve seen that non-spherical particles can demonstrate superior removal-rates and defectivities compared to more perfect spheres.”
Selectivity is one of the most critical and difficult aspects of the CMP process, and arguably the key distinction between CMP and mere polishing. The more similarity between the two or more exposed materials, the more difficult to design high selectivity in a slurry. Generally, dielectric:dielectric selectivity is difficult, and how to develop a slurry that is highly selective to nitride (Si3N4) instead of TEOS-oxide (PECVD SiO2 using tetra-ethyl-ortho-silicate precursor) was discussed by Takeda-san of Fujimi Corporation. In general, dielectric CMP is dominated by mechanical forces, so the slurry chemistry must be tuned to achieve selectivity. Choosing <5 pH for the slurry allows for reducing the oxide removal rate while maintaining the rate of nitride removal. Legacy nitride slurries have acceptable selectivities but unacceptable edge-over-erosion (EOE) – the localized over-planarization often seen near pattern edges. Reducing the particle size reduces the mechanical force across the surface such that chemical forces dominate the removal even more, while EOE can be reduced because negatively charged particles are attracted to the positively charged nitride surface resulting in local accumulation.
—E.K.

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