Reactive-ion etching (RIE) is an etching technology used in microfabrication. RIE is a type of dry etching which has different characteristics than wet etching. RIE uses chemically reactive plasma to remove material deposited on wafers. The plasma is generated under low pressure (vacuum) by an electromagnetic field. High-energy ions from the plasma attack the wafer surface and react with it.
Etching is used in microfabrication to chemically remove layers from the surface of a wafer during manufacturing. Etching is a critically important process module, and every wafer undergoes many etching steps before it is complete.
Microfabrication is the process of fabricating miniature structures of micrometre scales and smaller. Historically, the earliest microfabrication processes were used for integrated circuit fabrication, also known as "semiconductor manufacturing" or "semiconductor device fabrication". In the last two decades microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), microsystems, micromachines and their subfields, microfluidics/lab-on-a-chip, optical MEMS, RF MEMS, PowerMEMS, BioMEMS and their extension into nanoscale have re-used, adapted or extended microfabrication methods. Flat-panel displays and solar cells are also using similar techniques.
Dry etching refers to the removal of material, typically a masked pattern of semiconductor material, by exposing the material to a bombardment of ions that dislodge portions of the material from the exposed surface. A common type of dry etching is reactive-ion etching. Unlike with many of the wet chemical etchants used in wet etching, the dry etching process typically etches directionally or anisotropically.
A typical (parallel plate) RIE system consists of a cylindrical vacuum chamber, with a wafer platter situated in the bottom portion of the chamber. The wafer platter is electrically isolated from the rest of the chamber. Gas enters through small inlets in the top of the chamber, and exits to the vacuum pump system through the bottom. The types and amount of gas used vary depending upon the etch process; for instance, sulfur hexafluoride is commonly used for etching silicon. Gas pressure is typically maintained in a range between a few millitorr and a few hundred millitorr by adjusting gas flow rates and/or adjusting an exhaust orifice.
In electronics, a wafer is a thin slice of semiconductor, such as a crystalline silicon (c-Si), used for the fabrication of integrated circuits and, in photovoltaics, to manufacture solar cells. The wafer serves as the substrate for microelectronic devices built in and upon the wafer. It undergoes many microfabrication processes, such as doping, ion implantation, etching, thin-film deposition of various materials, and photolithographic patterning. Finally, the individual microcircuits are separated by wafer dicing and packaged as an integrated circuit.
A vacuum pump is a device that removes gas molecules from a sealed volume in order to leave behind a partial vacuum. The first vacuum pump was invented in 1650 by Otto von Guericke, and was preceded by the suction pump, which dates to antiquity.
Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) is an inorganic, colorless, odorless, non-flammable, non-toxic extremely potent greenhouse gas, and an excellent electrical insulator. SF
6 has an octahedral geometry, consisting of six fluorine atoms attached to a central sulfur atom. It is a hypervalent molecule. Typical for a nonpolar gas, it is poorly soluble in water but quite soluble in nonpolar organic solvents. It is generally transported as a liquefied compressed gas. It has a density of 6.12 g/L at sea level conditions, considerably higher than the density of air (1.225 g/L).
Other types of RIE systems exist, including inductively coupled plasma (ICP) RIE. In this type of system, the plasma is generated with an RF powered magnetic field. Very high plasma densities can be achieved, though etch profiles tend to be more isotropic.
An inductively coupled plasma (ICP) or transformer coupled plasma (TCP) is a type of plasma source in which the energy is supplied by electric currents which are produced by electromagnetic induction, that is, by time-varying magnetic fields.
Radio frequency (RF) is the oscillation rate of an alternating electric current or voltage or of a magnetic, electric or electromagnetic field or mechanical system in the frequency range from around twenty thousand times per second to around three hundred billion times per second. This is roughly between the upper limit of audio frequencies and the lower limit of infrared frequencies; these are the frequencies at which energy from an oscillating current can radiate off a conductor into space as radio waves. Different sources specify different upper and lower bounds for the frequency range.
A combination of parallel plate and inductively coupled plasma RIE is possible. In this system, the ICP is employed as a high density source of ions which increases the etch rate, whereas a separate RF bias is applied to the substrate (silicon wafer) to create directional electric fields near the substrate to achieve more anisotropic etch profiles.
Plasma is initiated in the system by applying a strong RF (radio frequency) electromagnetic field to the wafer platter. The field is typically set to a frequency of 13.56 Megahertz, applied at a few hundred watts. The oscillating electric field ionizes the gas molecules by stripping them of electrons, creating a plasma.
The industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) radio bands are radio bands reserved internationally for the use of radio frequency (RF) energy for industrial, scientific and medical purposes other than telecommunications. Examples of applications in these bands include radio-frequency process heating, microwave ovens, and medical diathermy machines. The powerful emissions of these devices can create electromagnetic interference and disrupt radio communication using the same frequency, so these devices were limited to certain bands of frequencies. In general, communications equipment operating in these bands must tolerate any interference generated by ISM applications, and users have no regulatory protection from ISM device operation.
The watt is a unit of power. In the International System of Units (SI) it is defined as a derived unit of 1 joule per second, and is used to quantify the rate of energy transfer. In dimensional analysis, power is described by .
Plasma is one of the four fundamental states of matter, and was first described by chemist Irving Langmuir in the 1920s. Plasma can be artificially generated by heating or subjecting a neutral gas to a strong electromagnetic field to the point where an ionized gaseous substance becomes increasingly electrically conductive, and long-range electromagnetic fields dominate the behaviour of the matter.
In each cycle of the field, the electrons are electrically accelerated up and down in the chamber, sometimes striking both the upper wall of the chamber and the wafer platter. At the same time, the much more massive ions move relatively little in response to the RF electric field. When electrons are absorbed into the chamber walls they are simply fed out to ground and do not alter the electronic state of the system. However, electrons deposited on the wafer platter cause the platter to build up charge due to its DC isolation. This charge build up develops a large negative voltage on the platter, typically around a few hundred volts. The plasma itself develops a slightly positive charge due to the higher concentration of positive ions compared to free electrons.
Because of the large voltage difference, the positive ions tend to drift toward the wafer platter, where they collide with the samples to be etched. The ions react chemically with the materials on the surface of the samples, but can also knock off (sputter) some material by transferring some of their kinetic energy. Due to the mostly vertical delivery of reactive ions, reactive-ion etching can produce very anisotropic etch profiles, which contrast with the typically isotropic profiles of wet chemical etching.
In physics, the kinetic energy of an object is the energy that it possesses due to its motion. It is defined as the work needed to accelerate a body of a given mass from rest to its stated velocity. Having gained this energy during its acceleration, the body maintains this kinetic energy unless its speed changes. The same amount of work is done by the body when decelerating from its current speed to a state of rest.
Chemical milling or industrial etching is the subtractive manufacturing process of using baths of temperature-regulated etching chemicals to remove material to create an object with the desired shape. It is mostly used on metals, though other materials are increasingly important. It was developed from armor-decorating and printing etching processes developed during the Renaissance as alternatives to engraving on metal. The process essentially involves bathing the cutting areas in a corrosive chemical known as an etchant, which reacts with the material in the area to be cut and causes the solid material to be dissolved; inert substances known as maskants are used to protect specific areas of the material as resists.
Etch conditions in an RIE system depend strongly on the many process parameters, such as pressure, gas flows, and RF power. A modified version of RIE is deep reactive-ion etching, used to excavate deep features.
Deep reactive-ion etching (DRIE) is a highly anisotropic etch process used to create deep penetration, steep-sided holes and trenches in wafers/substrates, typically with high aspect ratios. It was developed for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), which require these features, but is also used to excavate trenches for high-density capacitors for DRAM and more recently for creating through silicon vias (TSVs) in advanced 3D wafer level packaging technology.
Anisotropy, is the property of being directionally dependent, which implies different properties in different directions, as opposed to isotropy. It can be defined as a difference, when measured along different axes, in a material's physical or mechanical properties
Microelectromechanical systems is the technology of microscopic devices, particularly those with moving parts. It merges at the nano-scale into nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) and nanotechnology. MEMS are also referred to as micromachines in Japan, or micro systems technology (MST) in Europe.
In physics, sputtering is a phenomenon in which microscopic particles of a solid material are ejected from its surface, after the material is itself bombarded by energetic particles of a plasma or gas. It occurs naturally in outer space, and can be an unwelcome source of wear in precision components. However, the fact that it can be made to act on extremely fine layers of material is exploited in science and industry -- there, it is used to perform precise etching, carry out analytical techniques, and deposit thin film layers in the manufacture of optical coatings, semiconductor devices and nanotechnology products.
Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is a type of mass spectrometry which is capable of detecting metals and several non-metals at concentrations as low as one part in 1015 (part per quadrillion, ppq) on non-interfered low-background isotopes. This is achieved by ionizing the sample with inductively coupled plasma and then using a mass spectrometer to separate and quantify those ions.
An ion beam is a type of charged particle beam consisting of ions. Ion beams have many uses in electronics manufacturing and other industries. A variety of ion beam sources exists, some derived from the mercury vapor thrusters developed by NASA in the 1960s. The most common ion beams are of singly-charged ions.
A capacitively coupled plasma (CCP) is one of the most common types of industrial plasma sources. It essentially consists of two metal electrodes separated by a small distance, placed in a reactor. The gas pressure in the reactor can be lower than atmosphere or it can be atmospheric.
Inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES), also referred to as inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES), is an analytical technique used for the detection of chemical elements. It is a type of emission spectroscopy that uses the inductively coupled plasma to produce excited atoms and ions that emit electromagnetic radiation at wavelengths characteristic of a particular element. It is a flame technique with a flame temperature in a range from 6000 to 10,000 K. The intensity of this emission is indicative of the concentration of the element within the sample.
Plasma etching is a form of plasma processing used to fabricate integrated circuits. It involves a high-speed stream of glow discharge (plasma) of an appropriate gas mixture being shot at a sample. The plasma source, known as etch species, can be either charged (ions) or neutral. During the process, the plasma generates volatile etch products at room temperature from the chemical reactions between the elements of the material etched and the reactive species generated by the plasma. Eventually the atoms of the shot element embed themselves at or just below the surface of the target, thus modifying the physical properties of the target.
Advanced silicon etching (ASE) is a deep reactive-ion etching (DRIE) technique to rapidly etch deep and high aspect ratio structures in silicon. ASE was pioneered by Surface Technology Systems Plc. (STS) in 1994 in the UK. STS has continued to develop this process with even greater etch rates while maintaining side wall roughness and selectivity. STS developed the switched process originally invented by Dr. Larmer at Bosch, Stuttgart. ASE consists in combining the fast etch rates achieved in an isotropic Si etch (usually making use of an SF6 plasma) with a deposition or passivation process (usually utilising a C4F8 plasma condensation process) by alternating the two process steps. This approach achieves the fastest etch rates while maintaining the ability to etch anisotropically, typically vertically in Microelectromechanical Systems (microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)) applications.
The ASE HRM is an evolution of the previous generations of ICP design, now incorporating a decoupled plasma source (patent pending). This decoupled source generates very high density plasma which is allowed to diffuse into a separate process chamber. Through careful chamber design, the excess ions that are detrimental to process control are reduced, leaving a uniform distribution of fluorine free-radicals at a higher density than that available from the conventional ICP sources. The higher fluorine free-radical density facilitates increased etch rates, typically over three times the etch rates achieved with the original Bosch process. Also, as a result of the reduction in the effect of localised depletion of these species, improved uniformity for many applications can be achieved.
Plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) is a chemical vapor deposition process used to deposit thin films from a gas state (vapor) to a solid state on a substrate. Chemical reactions are involved in the process, which occur after creation of a plasma of the reacting gases. The plasma is generally created by radio frequency (RF) frequency or direct current (DC) discharge between two electrodes, the space between which is filled with the reacting gases.
A plasma etcher, or etching tool, is a tool used in the production of semiconductor devices. A plasma etcher produces a plasma from a process gas, typically oxygen or a fluorine-bearing gas, using a high frequency electric field, typically 13.56 MHz. A silicon wafer is placed in the plasma etcher, and the air is evacuated from the process chamber using a system of vacuum pumps. Then a process gas is introduced at low pressure, and is excited into a plasma through dielectric breakdown.
Sputter deposition is a physical vapor deposition (PVD) method of thin film deposition by sputtering. This involves ejecting material from a "target" that is a source onto a "substrate" such as a silicon wafer. Resputtering is re-emission of the deposited material during the deposition process by ion or atom bombardment. Sputtered atoms ejected from the target have a wide energy distribution, typically up to tens of eV. The sputtered ions can ballistically fly from the target in straight lines and impact energetically on the substrates or vacuum chamber. Alternatively, at higher gas pressures, the ions collide with the gas atoms that act as a moderator and move diffusively, reaching the substrates or vacuum chamber wall and condensing after undergoing a random walk. The entire range from high-energy ballistic impact to low-energy thermalized motion is accessible by changing the background gas pressure. The sputtering gas is often an inert gas such as argon. For efficient momentum transfer, the atomic weight of the sputtering gas should be close to the atomic weight of the target, so for sputtering light elements neon is preferable, while for heavy elements krypton or xenon are used. Reactive gases can also be used to sputter compounds. The compound can be formed on the target surface, in-flight or on the substrate depending on the process parameters. The availability of many parameters that control sputter deposition make it a complex process, but also allow experts a large degree of control over the growth and microstructure of the film.
Alcatel Micro Machining Systems (AMMS) was a French manufacturer of Deep Reactive Ion Etching systems. The company's headquarters were located in Annecy, France.
Plasma-immersion ion implantation (PIII) or pulsed-plasma doping is a surface modification technique of extracting the accelerated ions from the plasma by applying a high voltage pulsed DC or pure DC power supply and targeting them into a suitable substrate or electrode with a semiconductor wafer placed over it, so as to implant it with suitable dopants. The electrode is a cathode for an electropositive plasma, while it is an anode for an electronegative plasma. Plasma can be generated in a suitably designed vacuum chamber with the help of various plasma sources such as Electron Cyclotron Resonance plasma source which yields plasma with the highest ion density and lowest contamination level, helicon plasma source, capacitively coupled plasma source, inductively coupled plasma source, DC glow discharge and metal vapor arc(for metallic species). The vacuum chamber can be of two types - diode and triode type depending upon whether the power supply is applied to the substrate as in the former case or to the perforated grid as in the latter.
Plasma-activated bonding is a derivative, directed to lower processing temperatures for direct bonding with hydrophilic surfaces. The main requirements for lowering temperatures of direct bonding are the use of materials melting at low temperatures and with different coefficients of thermal expansion (CTE).