Posted: November 24, 2009

Novellus' Ashable Hardmask PECVD Films Enable Sub-32nm Lithographic Patterning

(Nanowerk News) Novellus Systems has developed a suite of ashable hardmask (AHM) films that have up to 25 percent greater etch selectivity compared to similar amorphous carbon films in use by the industry today. This highly selective and transparent (HST) AHM family of films has demonstrated die yield improvements as much as 7 percent when coupled with Novellus' patented integrated edge bevel removal (EBR) technology.
Sub-32nm device design rules require high aspect ratio (AR) patterning for both logic and memory devices. At these advanced geometries, plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) based amorphous carbon films have higher etch selectivities and superior mechanical properties than traditional photoresists. Additionally, films of this nature enable more accurate pattern transfer from the photoresist to the substrate without complications such as pattern collapse and line bending. These amorphous carbon films are also used for double patterning schemes, enabling cost effective, high density patterning.
etch selectivity for a conventional amorphous carbon film
Figure 1A contrasts the normalized etch selectivity for a conventional amorphous carbon film deposited at 550C with a Novellus HST AHM film. While increasing deposition temperature can be used to increase selectivity, it also has the negative effect of decreasing the film's transparency. Less transparent films are more difficult to align during the photo step. With Novellus AHM films, transparency is not sacrificed, and the selectivity required for high AR patterning is maintained. Also shown in Figure 1A are critical dimension uniformity (CDU) maps showing typical etch selectivity performance for conventional amorphous carbon films and Novellus HST AHM films. The high selectivity and low erosion rate of the Novellus films demonstrate better within-wafer CDU performance, which facilitates the patterning of dense, high AR features (Figures 1B and 1C) and is critical to yield enhancement.
ebr transition zone thickness profile
The AHM thickness at the wafer's edge impacts the die yield in that region, requiring a narrow transition zone from full AHM thickness to bare silicon (i.e., complete AHM removal). Novellus' VECTOR® PECVD platform features an integrated EBR capability that provides complete removal of the AHM film within a 1mm transition zone. This sharp transition ensures that edge die have the required AHM thickness necessary for excellent CD uniformity control within 2 mm from the wafer's edge (see Figure 2). Because the EBR module is integrated onto the deposition platform, no additional bevel edge cleaning tools are required. And, since the AHM removal is performed outside the deposition chamber, better process and particle control can be achieved as compared to other in-situ edge control techniques.
In addition to enhanced die yield, Novellus' HST AHM films also provide a wider process window in a high volume manufacturing environment. Conventional amorphous carbon films deposited at higher temperatures are prone to moisture absorption at a faster rate. However, the multi-station sequential deposition (MSSD) architecture of the Novellus VECTOR PECVD platform enables superior hermeticity performance by incorporating process interfaces, which help to block moisture uptake. The hermeticity response of both the traditional high temperature amorphous carbon films and the Novellus HST AHM film are shown in Figure 3.
hermeticity response of both the traditional high temperature amorphous carbon films
"Novellus' HST AHM films meet the high density, high aspect ratio patterning requirements necessary for sub-32 nm devices," said Kevin Jennings, senior vice president for Novellus' PECVD business unit. "Coupled with the proven productivity of the VECTOR platform, Novellus' HST AHM solution is the low cost, high volume manufacturing choice for these advanced optical films."
About Novellus' PECVD Technology
For hardmask and dual patterning applications, Novellus offers a suite of AHM amorphous carbon films for the VECTOR PECVD platform. The company's optical films offer etch selectivities up to 25 percent greater than typical films of this composition, and coupled with the unique edge bevel removal (EBR) technology of the VECTOR system, can improve post-patterning die yield up to 7 percent.
About Novellus
Novellus Systems, Inc. is a leading provider of advanced process equipment for the global semiconductor industry. The company's products deliver value to customers by providing innovative technology backed by trusted productivity. An S&P 500 company, Novellus is headquartered in San Jose, Calif. with subsidiary offices across the globe.
Source: Novellus (press release)
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