Atomic layer deposition of copper for CMOS interconnects

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Hagen, Dirk J.
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University College Cork
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This work concerns the atomic layer deposition (ALD) of copper. ALD is a technique that allows conformal coating of difficult topographies such as narrow trenches and holes or even shadowed regions. However, the deposition of pure metals has so far been less successful than the deposition of oxides except for a few exceptions. Challenges include difficulties associated with the reduction of the metal centre of the precursor at reasonable temperatures and the tendency of metals to agglomerate during the growth process. Cu is a metal of special technical interest as it is widely used for interconnects on CMOS devices. These interconnects are usually fabricated by electroplating, which requires the deposition of thin Cu seed layers onto the trenches and vias. Here, ALD is regarded as potential candidate for replacing the current PVD technique, which is expected to reach its limitations as the critical dimensions continue to shrink. This work is separated into two parts. In the first part, a laboratory-scale ALD reactor was constructed and used for the thermal ALD of Cu. In the second part, the potentials of the application of Cu ALD on industry scale fabrication were examined in a joint project with Applied Materials and Intel. Within this project precursors developed by industrial partners were evaluated on a 300 mm Applied Materials metal-ALD chamber modified with a direct RF-plasma source. A feature that makes ALD a popular technique among researchers is the possibility to produce high- level thin film coatings for micro-electronics and nano-technology with relatively simple laboratory- scale reactors. The advanced materials and surfaces group (AMSG) at Tyndall National Institute operates a range of home-built ALD reactors. In order to carry out Cu ALD experiments, modifications to the normal reactor design had to be made. For example a carrier gas mechanism was necessary to facilitate the transport of the low-volatile Cu precursors. Precursors evaluated included the readily available Cu(II)-diketonates Cu-bis(acetylacetonate), Cu-bis(2,2,6,6-tetramethyl-hepta-3,5-dionate) and Cu-bis(1,1,1,5,5,5-hexafluoacetylacetonate) as well as the Cu-ketoiminate Cu-bis(4N-ethylamino- pent-3-en-2-onate), which is also known under the trade name AbaCus (Air Liquide), and the Cu(I)- silylamide 1,3-diisopropyl-imidazolin-2-ylidene Cu(I) hexamethyldisilazide ([NHC]Cu(hmds)), which was developed at Carleton University Ottawa. Forming gas (10 % H2 in Ar) was used as reducing agent except in early experiments where formalin was used. With all precursors an extreme surface selectivity of the deposition process was observed and significant growth was only achieved on platinum-group metals. Improvements in the Cu deposition process were obtained with [NHC]Cu(hmds) compared with the Cu(II) complexes. A possible reason is the reduced oxidation state of the metal centre. Continuous Cu films were obtained on Pd and indications for saturated growth with a rate of about 0.4 Å/cycle were found for deposition at 220 °C. Deposits obtained on Ru consisted of separated islands. Although no continuous films could be obtained in this work the relatively high density of Cu islands obtained was a clear improvement as compared to the deposits grown with Cu(II) complexes. When ultra-thin Pd films were used as substrates, island growth was also observed. A likely reason for this extreme difference to the Cu films obtained on thicker Pd films is the lack of stress compensation within the thin films. The most likely source of stress compensation in the thicker Pd films is the formation of a graded interlayer between Pd and Cu by inter-diffusion. To obtain continuous Cu films on more materials, reduction of the growth temperature was required. This was achieved in the plasma assisted ALD experiments discussed in the second part of this work. The precursors evaluated included the AbaCus compound and CTA-1, an aliphatic Cu-bis(aminoalkoxide), which was supplied by Adeka Corp.. Depositions could be carried out at very low temperatures (60 °C Abacus, 30 °C CTA-1). Metallic Cu could be obtained on all substrate materials investigated, but the shape of the deposits varied significantly between the substrate materials. On most materials (Si, TaN, Al2O3, CDO) Cu grew in isolated nearly spherical islands even at temperatures as low as 30 °C. It was observed that the reason for the island formation is the coalescence of the initial islands to larger, spherical islands instead of forming a continuous film. On the other hand, the formation of nearly two-dimensional islands was observed on Ru. These islands grew together forming a conductive film after a reasonably small number of cycles. The resulting Cu films were of excellent crystal quality and had good electrical properties; e.g. a resistivity of 2.39 µΩ cm was measured for a 47 nm thick film. Moreover, conformal coating of narrow trenches (1 µm deep 100/1 aspect ratio) was demonstrated showing the feasibility of the ALD process.
Copper , Interconnects , Atomic layer deposition
Hagen, D. 2013. Atomic layer deposition of copper for CMOS interconnects. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.