Chemical studies of plasma etchants used in integrated circuit manufacture
Plasma or "dry" etching is an essential process for the production of modern microelectronic circuits. However, despite intensive research, many aspects of the etch process are not fully understood. The results of studies of the plasma etching of Si and Si02 in fluorine-containing discharges, and the complementary technique of plasma polymerisation are presented in this thesis. Optical emission spectroscopy with argon actinometry was used as the principle plasma diagnostic. Statistical experimental design was used to model and compare Si and Si02 etch rates in CF4 and SF6 discharges as a function of flow, pressure and power. Etch mechanisms m both systems, including the potential reduction of Si etch rates in CF4 due to fluorocarbon polymer formation, are discussed. Si etch rates in CF4 /SF6 mixtures were successfully accounted for by the models produced. Si etch rates in CF4/C2F6 and CHF3 as a function of the addition of oxygen-containing additives (02, N20 and CO2) are shown to be consistent with a simple competition between F, 0 and CFx species for Si surface sites. For the range of conditions studied, Si02 etch rates were not dependent on F-atom concentration, but the presence of fluorine was essential in order to achieve significant etch rates. The influence of a wide range of electrode materials on the etch rate of Si and Si02 in CF4 and CF4 /02 plasmas was studied. It was found that the Si etch rate in a CF4 plasma was considerably enhanced, relative to an anodised aluminium electrode, in the presence of soda glass or sodium or potassium "doped" quartz. The effect was even more pronounced in a CF4 /02 discharge. In the latter system lead and copper electrodes also enhanced the Si etch rate. These results could not be accounted for by a corresponding rise in atomic fluorine concentration. Three possible etch enhancement mechanisms are discussed. Fluorocarbon polymer deposition was studied, both because of its relevance to etch mechanisms and its intrinsic interest, as a function of fluorocarbon source gas (CF4, C2F6, C3F8 and CHF3), process time, RF power and percentage hydrogen addition. Gas phase concentrations of F, H and CF2 were measured by optical emission spectroscopy, and the resultant polymer structure determined by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and infrared spectroscopy. Thermal and electrical properties were measured also. Hydrogen additions are shown to have a dominant role in determining deposition rate and polymer composition. A qualitative description of the polymer growth mechanism is presented which accounts for both changes in growth rate and structure, and leads to an empirical deposition rate model.