Metal gate

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Visual evidence of aluminum alloying into < 1 1 1 > silicon due to excessive aluminum annealing. The integrated circuit aluminum layer was removed via chemical etching to reveal this detail. 1-1-1 Pits from Aluminum Alloying.jpg
Visual evidence of aluminum alloying into < 1 1 1 > silicon due to excessive aluminum annealing. The integrated circuit aluminum layer was removed via chemical etching to reveal this detail.

A metal gate, in the context of a lateral metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) stack, is just that—the gate material is made from a metal.



The first MOSFET (metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor, or MOS transistor) was invented by Egyptian engineer Mohamed Atalla and Korean engineer Dawon Kahng at Bell Labs in 1959, and demonstrated in 1960. [1] They used silicon as channel material and a non-self-aligned aluminium (Al) gate. [2]

MOSFET Transistor used for amplifying or switching electronic signals.

The metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET, MOS-FET, or MOS FET), also known as the metal–oxide–silicon transistor (MOS transistor, or MOS), is a type of field-effect transistor that is fabricated by the controlled oxidation of a semiconductor, typically silicon. It has an insulated gate, whose voltage determines the conductivity of the device. This ability to change conductivity with the amount of applied voltage can be used for amplifying or switching electronic signals. The MOSFET is the basic building block of modern electronics. Since its invention by Mohamed M. Atalla and Dawon Kahng at Bell Labs in November 1959, the MOSFET has become the most widely manufactured device in history, with an estimated total of 13 sextillion (1.3 × 1022) MOS transistors manufactured between 1960 and 2018.

Dawon Kahng South Korean engineer

Dawon Kahng was a Korean-American electrical engineer and inventor, known for his work in solid-state electronics. He is best known for inventing the MOSFET, also known as the MOS transistor, with Mohamed Atalla in 1959. Atalla and Kahng developed both the PMOS and NMOS processes for MOSFET semiconductor device fabrication. The MOSFET is the most widely used type of transistor, and the basic element in most modern electronic equipment.

Bell Labs Research and scientific development company

Nokia Bell Labs is an industrial research and scientific development company owned by Finnish company Nokia. With headquarters located in Murray Hill, New Jersey, the company operates several laboratories in the United States and around the world. Bell Labs has its origins in the complex past of the Bell System.


In the late 1970s, the industry had moved away from metal (most typically aluminum, evaporated in a vacuum chamber onto the wafer surface), as the gate material in the metal-oxide-semiconductor stack due to fabrication complications.[ citation needed ] A material called polysilicon (polycrystalline silicon, highly doped with donors or acceptors to reduce its electrical resistance) was used to replace aluminum.

Silicon Chemical element with atomic number 14

Silicon is a chemical element with the symbol Si and atomic number 14. It is a hard and brittle crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic lustre; and it is a tetravalent metalloid and semiconductor. It is a member of group 14 in the periodic table: carbon is above it; and germanium, tin, and lead are below it. It is relatively unreactive. Because of its high chemical affinity for oxygen, it was not until 1823 that Jöns Jakob Berzelius was first able to prepare it and characterize it in pure form. Its melting and boiling points of 1414 °C and 3265 °C respectively are the second-highest among all the metalloids and nonmetals, being only surpassed by boron. Silicon is the eighth most common element in the universe by mass, but very rarely occurs as the pure element in the Earth's crust. It is most widely distributed in dusts, sands, planetoids, and planets as various forms of silicon dioxide (silica) or silicates. More than 90% of the Earth's crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust after oxygen.

Polysilicon can be deposited easily via chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and is tolerant to subsequent manufacturing steps which involve extremely high temperatures (in excess of 900–1000 °C), where metal was not. Particularly, metal (most commonly aluminum   a Type III (P-type) dopant) has a tendency to disperse into (alloy with) silicon during these thermal annealing steps.[ citation needed ] In particular, when used on a silicon wafer with a < 1 1 1 > crystal orientation, excessive alloying of aluminum (from extended high temperature processing steps) with the underlying silicon can create a short circuit between the diffused FET source or drain areas under the aluminum and across the metallurgical junction into the underlying substrate  causing irreparable circuit failures. These shorts are created by pyramidal-shaped spikes of silicon-aluminum alloy   pointing vertically "down" into the silicon wafer. The practical high-temperature limit for annealing aluminum on silicon is on the order of 450 °C. Polysilicon is also attractive for the easy manufacturing of self-aligned gates. The implantation or diffusion of source and drain dopant impurities is carried out with the gate in place, leading to a channel perfectly aligned to the gate without additional lithographic steps with the potential for misalignment of the layers.

Chemical vapor deposition chemical process used in the semiconductor industry to produce thin films

Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) is a vacuum deposition method used to produce high quality, high-performance, solid materials. The process is often used in the semiconductor industry to produce thin films.

Alloy mixture or metallic solid solution composed of two or more elements

An alloy is a combination of metals or a combination of one or more metals with non-metallic elements. For example, combining the metallic elements gold and copper produces red gold, gold and silver becomes white gold, and silver combined with copper produces sterling silver. Elemental iron, combined with non-metallic carbon or silicon, produces alloys called steel or silicon steel. The resulting mixture forms a substance with properties that often differ from those of the pure metals, such as increased strength or hardness. Unlike other substances that may contain metallic bases but do not behave as metals, such as aluminium oxide (sapphire), beryllium aluminium silicate (emerald) or sodium chloride (salt), an alloy will retain all the properties of a metal in the resulting material, such as electrical conductivity, ductility, opaqueness, and luster. Alloys are used in a wide variety of applications, from the steel alloys, used in everything from buildings to automobiles to surgical tools, to exotic titanium-alloys used in the aerospace industry, to beryllium-copper alloys for non-sparking tools. In some cases, a combination of metals may reduce the overall cost of the material while preserving important properties. In other cases, the combination of metals imparts synergistic properties to the constituent metal elements such as corrosion resistance or mechanical strength. Examples of alloys are steel, solder, brass, pewter, duralumin, bronze and amalgams.

Short circuit Electrical circuit with negligible impedance

A short circuit is an electrical circuit that allows a current to travel along an unintended path with no or very low electrical impedance. This results in an excessive current flowing through the circuit. The opposite of a short circuit is an "open circuit", which is an infinite resistance between two nodes. It is common to misuse "short circuit" to describe any electrical malfunction, regardless of the actual problem.


In NMOS and CMOS technologies, over time and elevated temperatures, the positive voltages employed by the gate structure can cause any existing positively charged sodium impurities directly under the positively charged gate to diffuse through the gate dielectric and migrate to the less-positively-charged channel surface, where the positive sodium charge has a higher effect on the channel creation  thus lowering the threshold voltage of an N-channel transistor and potentially causing failures over time. Earlier PMOS technologies were not sensitive to this effect because the positively charged sodium was naturally attracted towards the negatively charged gate, and away from the channel, minimizing threshold voltage shifts. N-channel, metal gate processes (in the 1970s) imposed a very high standard of cleanliness (absence of sodium)  difficult to achieve in that timeframe, resulting in high manufacturing costs. Polysilicon gates  while sensitive to the same phenomenon, could be exposed to small amounts of HCl gas during subsequent high-temperature processing (commonly called "gettering") to react with any sodium, binding with it to form NaCl and carrying it away in the gas stream, leaving an essentially sodium-free gate structure  greatly enhancing reliability.

N-type metal-oxide-semiconductor logic uses n-type MOSFETs to implement logic gates and other digital circuits. These nMOS transistors operate by creating an inversion layer in a p-type transistor body. This inversion layer, called the n-channel, can conduct electrons between n-type "source" and "drain" terminals. The n-channel is created by applying voltage to the third terminal, called the gate. Like other MOSFETs, nMOS transistors have four modes of operation: cut-off, triode, saturation, and velocity saturation.

CMOS Technology for constructing integrated circuits

Complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS), also known as complementary-symmetry metal–oxide–semiconductor (COS-MOS), is a type of MOSFET fabrication process that uses complementary and symmetrical pairs of p-type and n-type MOSFETs for logic functions. CMOS technology is used for constructing integrated circuits (ICs), including microprocessors, microcontrollers, memory chips, and other digital logic circuits. CMOS technology is also used for analog circuits such as image sensors, data converters, RF circuits, and highly integrated transceivers for many types of communication.

Sodium Chemical element with atomic number 11

Sodium is a chemical element with the symbol Na (from Latin natrium) and atomic number 11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal. Sodium is an alkali metal, being in group 1 of the periodic table, because it has a single electron in its outer shell, which it readily donates, creating a positively charged ion—the Na+ cation. Its only stable isotope is 23Na. The free metal does not occur in nature, and must be prepared from compounds. Sodium is the sixth most abundant element in the Earth's crust and exists in numerous minerals such as feldspars, sodalite, and rock salt (NaCl). Many salts of sodium are highly water-soluble: sodium ions have been leached by the action of water from the Earth's minerals over eons, and thus sodium and chlorine are the most common dissolved elements by weight in the oceans.

However, polysilicon doped at practical levels does not offer the near-zero electrical resistance of metals, and is therefore not ideal for charging and discharging the gate capacitance of the transistor   resulting in slower circuitry.

Capacitance Ability of a body to store an electrical charge

Capacitance is the ratio of the change in an electric charge in a system to the corresponding change in its electric potential. There are two closely related notions of capacitance: self capacitance and mutual capacitance. Any object that can be electrically charged exhibits self capacitance. A material with a large self capacitance holds more electric charge at a given voltage than one with low capacitance. The notion of mutual capacitance is particularly important for understanding the operations of the capacitor, one of the three elementary linear electronic components.

Transistor Basic electronics component

A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify or switch electronic signals and electrical power. It is composed of semiconductor material usually with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals controls the current through another pair of terminals. Because the controlled (output) power can be higher than the controlling (input) power, a transistor can amplify a signal. Today, some transistors are packaged individually, but many more are found embedded in integrated circuits.

From the 45 nm node onward, the metal gate technology returns, together with the use of high-dielectric (high-κ) materials, pioneered by Intel developments.

The candidates for the metal gate electrode are probably, for NMOS, Ta, TaN, Nb (single metal gate) and for PMOS WN/RuO2 (the PMOS metal gate is normally composed by two layers of metal). Due to this solution, the strain capacity on the channel can be improved (by the metal gate). Moreover, this enables less current perturbations (vibrations) in the gate (due to the disposition of electrons inside the metal).

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Semiconductor device fabrication manufacturing process used to create integrated circuits

Semiconductor device fabrication is the process used to manufacture semiconductor devices, typically the metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) devices used in the integrated circuit (IC) chips that are present in everyday electrical and electronic devices. It is a multiple-step sequence of photolithographic and chemical processing steps during which electronic circuits are gradually created on a wafer made of pure semiconducting material. Silicon is almost always used, but various compound semiconductors are used for specialized applications.

A semiconductor material has an electrical conductivity value falling between that of a conductor, such as metallic copper, and an insulator, such as glass. Its resistance decreases as its temperature increases, which is the behaviour opposite to that of a metal. Its conducting properties may be altered in useful ways by the deliberate, controlled introduction of impurities ("doping") into the crystal structure. Where two differently-doped regions exist in the same crystal, a semiconductor junction is created. The behavior of charge carriers which include electrons, ions and electron holes at these junctions is the basis of diodes, transistors and all modern electronics. Some examples of semiconductors are silicon, germanium, gallium arsenide, and elements near the so-called "metalloid staircase" on the periodic table. After silicon, gallium arsenide is the second most common semiconductor and is used in laser diodes, solar cells, microwave-frequency integrated circuits and others. Silicon is a critical element for fabricating most electronic circuits.

Furnace annealing is a process used in semiconductor device fabrication which consist of heating multiple semiconductor wafers in order to affect their electrical properties. Heat treatments are designed for different effects. Wafers can be heated in order to activate dopants, change film to film or film to wafer substrate interfaces, densify deposited films, change states of grown films, repair damage from implants, move dopants or drive dopants from one film into another or from a film into the wafer substrate. During ion implantation process, the crystal substrate is damaged due to bombardment with high energy ions. The damage caused can be repaired by subjecting the crystal to high temperature. This process is called annealing. Furnace anneals may be integrated into other furnace processing steps, such as oxidations, or may be processed on their own.

Threshold voltage Minimum source-to-gate voltage for a field effect transistor to be conducting from source to drain

The threshold voltage, commonly abbreviated as Vth, of a field-effect transistor (FET) is the minimum gate-to-source voltage VGS (th) that is needed to create a conducting path between the source and drain terminals. It is an important scaling factor to maintain power efficiency.

Depletion-load NMOS logic form of nMOS logic family

In integrated circuits, depletion-load NMOS is a form of digital logic family that uses only a single power supply voltage, unlike earlier nMOS logic families that needed more than one different power supply voltage. Although manufacturing these integrated circuits required additional processing steps, improved switching speed and the elimination of the extra power supply made this logic family the preferred choice for many microprocessors and other logic elements.

Capacitance–voltage profiling is a technique for characterizing semiconductor materials and devices. The applied voltage is varied, and the capacitance is measured and plotted as a function of voltage. The technique uses a metal–semiconductor junction or a p–n junction or a MOSFET to create a depletion region, a region which is empty of conducting electrons and holes, but may contain ionized donors and electrically active defects or traps. The depletion region with its ionized charges inside behaves like a capacitor. By varying the voltage applied to the junction it is possible to vary the depletion width. The dependence of the depletion width upon the applied voltage provides information on the semiconductor's internal characteristics, such as its doping profile and electrically active defect densities., Measurements may be done at DC, or using both DC and a small-signal AC signal, or using a large-signal transient voltage.

Charge trap flash (CTF) is a semiconductor memory technology used in creating non-volatile NOR and NAND flash memory. The technology differs from the more conventional floating-gate MOSFET technology in that it uses a silicon nitride film to store electrons rather than the doped polycrystalline silicon typical of a floating gate structure. This approach allows memory manufacturers to reduce manufacturing costs five ways:

  1. Fewer process steps are required to form a charge storage node
  2. Smaller process geometries can be used
  3. Multiple bits can be stored on a single flash memory cell.
  4. Improved reliability
  5. Higher yield since the charge trap is less susceptible to point defects in the tunnel oxide layer

Negative-bias temperature instability (NBTI) is a key reliability issue in MOSFETs. NBTI manifests as an increase in the threshold voltage and consequent decrease in drain current and transconductance of a MOSFET. The degradation is often approximated by a power-law dependence on time. It is of immediate concern in p-channel MOS devices (pMOS), since they almost always operate with negative gate-to-source voltage; however, the very same mechanism also affects nMOS transistors when biased in the accumulation regime, i.e. with a negative bias applied to the gate.

SONOS, short for "silicon–oxide–nitride–oxide–silicon", more precisely, "polycrystalline silicon"—"silicon dioxide"—"silicon nitride"—"siicon dioxide"—"silicon", is a cross sectional structure of MOSFET, realized by P.C.Y. Chen in 1977. This structure is often used for non-volatile memories, such as EEPROM and flash memories. It is sometimes used for TFT LCD displays. It is one of CTF (charge trap flash) variants. It is distinguished from traditional non-volatile memory structures by the use of silicon nitride (Si3N4 or Si9N10) instead of "polysilicon-based FG (floating-gate)" for the charge storage material. A further variant is "SHINOS" ("silicon"—"hi-k"—"nitride"—"oxide"—"silicon"), which is substituted top oxide layer with high-κ material. Another advanced variant is "MONOS" ("metal–oxide–nitride–oxide–silicon"). Companies offering SONOS-based products include Cypress Semiconductor, Macronix, Toshiba, United Microelectronics Corporation and Floadia.

In electronics, a self-aligned gate is a transistor manufacturing feature whereby a refractory gate electrode region of a MOSFET is used as a mask for the doping of the source and drain regions. This technique ensures that the gate will slightly overlap the edges of the source and drain.

PMOS logic p-type MOSFETs to implement logic gates

P-type metal-oxide-semiconductor logic uses p-channel metal-oxide-semiconductor field effect transistors (MOSFETs) to implement logic gates and other digital circuits. PMOS transistors operate by creating an inversion layer in an n-type transistor body. This inversion layer, called the p-channel, can conduct holes between p-type "source" and "drain" terminals.

Lau Wai Shing, also known as Wai Shing Lau, is a Hong Kong electrical engineer and materials scientist. He worked on both Si-based and III-V based microelectronics.

The gate oxide is the dielectric layer that separates the gate terminal of a MOSFET from the underlying source and drain terminals as well as the conductive channel that connects source and drain when the transistor is turned on. Gate oxide is formed by thermal oxidation of the silicon of the channel to form a thin insulating layer of silicon dioxide. The insulating silicon dioxide layer is formed through a process of self-limiting oxidation, which is described by the Deal Grove model. A conductive gate material is subsequently deposited over the gate oxide to form the transistor. The gate oxide serves as the dielectric layer so that the gate can sustain as high as 1 to 5 MV/cm transverse electric field in order to strongly modulate the conductance of the channel.

In field effect transistors (FETs), depletion mode and enhancement mode are two major transistor types, corresponding to whether the transistor is in an ON state or an OFF state at zero gate–source voltage.

Polysilicon depletion effect is the phenomenon in which unwanted variation of threshold voltage of the MOSFET devices using polysilicon as gate material is observed, leading to unpredicted behavior of the electronic circuit. Polycrystalline silicon, also called polysilicon, is a material consisting of small silicon crystals. It differs from single-crystal silicon, used for electronics and solar cells, and from amorphous silicon, used for thin film devices and solar cells.

Field-effect transistor transistor that uses an electric field to control the electrical behaviour of the device. FETs are also known as unipolar transistors since they involve single-carrier-type operation

The field-effect transistor (FET) is an electronic device which uses an electric field to control the flow of current. FETs are devices with three terminals: source, gate, and drain. FETs control the flow of current by the application of a voltage to the gate, which in turn alters the conductivity between the drain and source.


  1. "1960 - Metal Oxide Semiconductor (MOS) Transistor Demonstrated". The Silicon Engine. Computer History Museum . Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  2. Voinigescu, Sorin (2013). High-Frequency Integrated Circuits. Cambridge University Press. p. 164. ISBN   9780521873024.