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The Interactions of Plasma with Low-k Dielectrics: Fundamental Damage and Protection Mechanisms
Nanoporous low-k dielectrics are used for integrated circuit interconnects to reduce the propagation delays, and cross talk noise between metal wires as an alternative material for SiO2. These materials, typically organosilicate glass (OSG) films, are exposed to oxygen plasmas during photoresist stripping and related processes which substantially damage the film by abstracting carbon, incorporating O and OH, eventually leading to significantly increased k values. Systematic studies have been performed to understand the oxygen plasma-induced damage mechanisms on different low-k OSG films of various porosity and pore interconnectedness. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and atomic force microscopy are used to understand the damage kinetics of O radicals, ultraviolet photons and charged species, and possible ways to control the carbon loss from the film. FTIR results demonstrate that O radical present in the plasma is primarily responsible for carbon abstraction and this is governed by diffusion mechanism involving interconnected film nanopores. The loss of carbon from the film can be controlled by closing the pore interconnections, He plasma pretreatment is an effective way to control the damage at longer exposure by closing the connections between the pores.