Multi-scale modelling of atomic layer deposition

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Shirazi, Mahdi
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University College Cork
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High-permittivity ("high-k") dielectric materials are used in the transistor gate stack in integrated circuits. As the thickness of silicon oxide dielectric reduces below 2 nm with continued downscaling, the leakage current because of tunnelling increases, leading to high power consumption and reduced device reliability. Hence, research concentrates on finding materials with high dielectric constant that can be easily integrated into a manufacturing process and show the desired properties as a thin film. Atomic layer deposition (ALD) is used practically to deposit high-k materials like HfO2, ZrO2, and Al2O3 as gate oxides. ALD is a technique for producing conformal layers of material with nanometer-scale thickness, used commercially in non-planar electronics and increasingly in other areas of science and technology. ALD is a type of chemical vapor deposition that depends on self-limiting surface chemistry. In ALD, gaseous precursors are allowed individually into the reactor chamber in alternating pulses. Between each pulse, inert gas is admitted to prevent gas phase reactions. This thesis provides a profound understanding of the ALD of oxides such as HfO2, showing how the chemistry affects the properties of the deposited film. Using multi-scale modelling of ALD, the kinetics of reactions at the growing surface is connected to experimental data. In this thesis, we use density functional theory (DFT) method to simulate more realistic models for the growth of HfO2 from Hf(N(CH3)2)4/H2O and HfCl4/H2O and for Al2O3 from Al(CH3)3/H2O.Three major breakthroughs are discovered. First, a new reaction pathway, ’multiple proton diffusion’, is proposed for the growth of HfO2 from Hf(N(CH3)2)4/H2O.1 As a second major breakthrough, a ’cooperative’ action between adsorbed precursors is shown to play an important role in ALD. By this we mean that previously-inert fragments can become reactive once sufficient molecules adsorb in their neighbourhood during either precursor pulse. As a third breakthrough, the ALD of HfO2 from Hf(N(CH3)2)4 and H2O is implemented for the first time into 3D on-lattice kinetic Monte-Carlo (KMC).2 In this integrated approach (DFT+KMC), retaining the accuracy of the atomistic model in the higher-scale model leads to remarkable breakthroughs in our understanding. The resulting atomistic model allows direct comparison with experimental techniques such as X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and quartz crystal microbalance.
DFT , KMC , ALD , Density functional theory , Kinetic monte carlo , Atomic layer deposition
Shirazi, M. 2014. Multi-scale modelling of atomic layer deposition. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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