Atomic layer deposition of silicon-based dielectrics for semiconductor manufacturing: Current status and future outlook

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Ovanesyan, Rafaiel A.
Filatova, Ekaterina A.
Elliott, Simon D.
Hausmann, Dennis M.
Smith, David C.
Agarwal, Sumit
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AIP Publishing
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The fabrication of next-generation semiconductor devices has created a need for low-temperature (≤400 °C) deposition of highly-conformal (>95%) SiO2, SiNx, and SiC films on high-aspect-ratio nanostructures. To enable the growth of these Si-based dielectric films, semiconductor manufacturers are transitioning from chemical vapor deposition to atomic layer deposition (ALD). Currently, SiO2 films deposited using ALD are already being integrated into semiconductor device manufacturing. However, substantial processing challenges remain for the complete integration of SiNx films deposited by ALD, and there are no known processes for ALD of SiC at temperatures that are compatible with semiconductor device manufacturing. In this focused review, the authors look at the status of thermal and plasma-assisted ALD of these three Si-based dielectric films. For SiO2 ALD, since low-temperature processes that deposit high-quality films are known, the authors focus primarily on the identification of surface reaction mechanisms using chlorosilane and aminosilane precursors, as this provides a foundation for the ALD of SiNx and SiC, two material systems where substantial processing challenges still exist. Using an understanding of the surface reaction mechanisms, the authors describe the underlying reasons for the processing challenges during ALD of SiNx and SiC and suggest methodologies for process improvement. While both thermal and plasma-assisted SiNx ALD processes have been reported in the literature, the thermal NH3-based ALD processes require processing temperatures >500 °C and large NH3 doses. On the other hand, plasma-assisted SiNx ALD processes suffer from nonuniform film properties or low conformality when deposited on high-aspect-ratio nanostructures. In the SiNx section, the authors provide a broad overview of the currently known thermal and plasma-assisted SiNx ALD processes using chlorosilane, trisilylamine, and aminosilane precursors, describe the process shortcomings, and review the literature on precursor reaction pathways. The authors close this section with suggestions for improving the film properties and conformality. In the case of SiC, the authors first outline the limitations of previously reported SiC ALD processes and highlight that unlike SiO2 and SiNx plasma-assisted ALD, no straightforward pathway for low-temperature plasma-assisted growth is currently apparent. The authors speculate that low-temperature ALD of SiC may require the design of completely new precursors. Finally, they summarize the progress made in the ALD of C-containing SiNx and SiO2 films, which may provide many of the benefits of SiC ALD in semiconductor manufacturing. In closing, through this review, the authors hope to provide the readers with a comprehensive knowledge of the surface reactions mechanisms during ALD of Si-based dielectrics, which would provide a foundation for future precursor and process development.
Atomic layer , Silicon-based dielectrics , Semiconductor manufacturing , Atomic layer deposition (ALD)
Ovanesyan, R. A., Filatova, E. A., Elliott, S. D., Hausmann, D. M., Smith, D. C. and Agarwal, S. (2019) 'Atomic layer deposition of silicon-based dielectrics for semiconductor manufacturing: Current status and future outlook', Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A, 37(6), 060904. (23pp.) DOI: 10.1116/1.5113631