Process development and reliability of thin gate oxides

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Title: Process development and reliability of thin gate oxides
Author: Capasso, Keith
Abstract: The Semiconductor Industry Association's (SIA) current National Technological Roadmap calls for the development of a suitable dielectric material for use in gate oxide for the 0.18|micrometers generation of chips and beyond. Some of the key challenges identified are resistance to oxide trapped charge generation from higher levels of tunneling currents and/or plasma processing, and formation of an effective barrier to dopant penetration during the gate processing. One promising material to meet these challenges is nitrided thermal oxide. Development of a growth process that yields high quality, lOnm thick, thermally grown Si02 films at RJT for use as a gate dielectric is described. Thin oxides (8nm - 20nm) were grown by thermal oxidation followed by inert anneals in Ar and N2. Nitrided oxides were created by implanting N2 (dose range: 5el3 - lei 5 /cm2) into the substrate prior to gate oxidation. Test equipment was setup to study Fowler Nordheim (FN) tunneling and dielectric breakdown. Test structures consisted of conventional and novel MOS capacitor structures with aluminum and poly-silicon gate electrodes. Scaling RJT's existing, 20nm oxidation process to lOnm resulted in degradation of dielectric strength from > lOMV/cm to ~6-7MV/cm for Al-gate MOS capacitors. Replacing the Al gate material with poly-silicon restored the dielectric strength to lOMV/cm. Performing an N2 implant through a screening oxide, prior to gate oxidation, was investigated as a means of obtaining a nitrided thermal oxide. For certain doses (5el3 - 5el4 /cm2), Al-gate MOS capacitors exhibited an improved dielectric strength as the mean value increased from 6- 7MV/cm to ~9MV/cm. Poly-Si gate MOS capacitors showed a similar improvement for the nitrided oxides, exhibiting mean dielectric strength values in the 10-12MV/cm range. Fowler- Nordheim (FN) tunnel current measurements showed that the nitrided films exhibit lower leakage levels and less charge trapping than their thermal Si02 counterparts. Results indicate that a 12nm nitrided oxide, for a certain dose (5el4/cm2), exhibited equivalent electrical performance to a 20nm thermally grown Si02 oxide. In conclusion, a process was developed for yielding reliable thin gate oxides (~10nm) in a university fab.
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Date: 1999-06

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