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Fundamentals of Plasma Etching

Part 1
Focus on the Plasma and Ion Energy Control
Jim McVittie
<mcvittie@stanford.edu>
Stanford Nanofabrication Facility
Stanford University
2008 NNIN Etch Workshop

Outline
Etcher Overview
RF Plasma
Why we use RF excited plasmas
The Capacitive Coupled Plasma (CCP)
How the rf current across sheath leads the DC bias
Why controlling DC bias is important for etching
Use of Inductive coupled plasmas (ICP) as low bias source
Use of ICP with CCP to control DC bias (Ion Energy)
Beyond simple DC biasing for ion energy control

Basic Etching Process

RF Power
Electrons gain energy from RF or w fields
Electrons impact with feed gas to generate ions, reactive neutrals and more
electrons
Ions and reactive neutrals diffuse and drift to wafer surface where they remove
and deposit material
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Ion Enhanced Etching Effect


From Coburn and Winters

Spontaneous (Chemical)
Etching

Ion Enhanced Etching

Physical Etching
(Sputtering)

25x Etch Rate


increase

Ions + Adsorbed Reactive Neutral

High Etch Rates


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Ion Directionality

V
Sheath

Wafer
Position

Plasma Etch Reactors


Capacitive Coupled
CCP
RIE Type

High Density
Inductive Coupled
ICP Type

Downstream

Plasma
Plasma stop
Reactive
Neutral

Etch Product
Wafer

Rf Bias

Why We Use RF

DC plasmas

Wafer Damage

Leads to charging and DC currents through wafer


Microwave Plasmas
No self (DC) bias (Needed for directional etching)
RF plasmas
RF current through wafer causes no damage
No charging damage if plasma is uniform
Exception is electron shading caused charging in
high aspect ratio structures
Easy to get induced self or DC bias

Capacitive Coupled Plasma (CCP)


Vacuum
Chamber
RF

Glow or Plasma
Region

13.5 MHz

Sheaths
Wafer

Matching
Network

Driven electrode
Gas In

To pump

To start, initial voltage must exceed Vbreakdown


Depends on gas, pressure and spacing ~ 300 to 600 V

RF current through gas maintains steady state


discharge by heating electrons
Ions and electrons from ionization balance their losses
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Glow or Plasma Region


Generation Region -- Ion, electrons, excited
species and molecular fragments generated
here
Relaxation of excited species produces glow ( ~1 ns)
Reactive fragments important for etching and CVD

Quasi-neutral gas -- ni+ = ne- + ni pos ions ni+ , neg ions ni- , electrons ne ni- can not make it to wafer -- often can be neglected
Only weak E fields < 10 V/cm

Neutral density >> ion density


no >> ni, ne
ni /no = 10-3 to 10-6
ni ~ 109 1012 cm-3
Electrons carry the RF current in this region
Plasma Potential V between plasma and gnd
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Ionization, Radical Generation and Electron


Temperature
dN()/d

Electron Energy Distribution


Dissociation
Ionization

Te/2

d iz

Energy,

Expontential Boltzmann Tail


exp(- / Te)

Te ~ 4 5 eV

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Sheath Region
Electron depletion region forms at all surfaces to
keep electrons in plasma region (ni+ >> ne-)
Dark -- Few electrons
no excited species
no light
Pos Charge
High E field (up to a few KV/cm )
Most electrons returned to plasma
Few percent make it across

Pos ions accelerated toward surface


Ions gain energy and directionality
Ion current determined by plasma
density ne

RF current carried by
displacement (capacitor) current

Plasma
Ions
+

electrons

Sheath

This is the source for the name capacitive coupling


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CCP Currents
E

Ions
+

Irf
Je
-

Ji

Plasma
electrons
Sheath

Irf
Plasma Region
Small E field
Quasi neutral
ni+ = ne e- lighter & faster
ve ~ 100x vi
e- carries current
Jrf = Je >> Ji

Sheath Regions

JDisp

Sheath
osc

J is current density

Large E field to keep mobile e- in plasma region


e- depletion
ni+ >> ne e- cannot carry current
Jrf >> Je ~ 98% of e- are returned to plasma by sheath
Conduction currents over area balanced over rf cycle
JiA= - JeA
Jrf carried by displacement (capacitor) current
Jrf = Jdisp
Charge transfer by sheath width oscillation
Sheath Charge
Dc bias
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Oscillating RF Sheath

RF current crosses sheath by displacement irf = dq/dt


For irf = io sin t, a charge of io / cos t builds up on each of the
sheath
On plasma side of sheath there is no electrode, displacement current
develops by the sheath moving and generating a dq/dt by depleting
and restoring the es as the plasma edge oscillates in and out.
no

ns
no=ni=ne

ni=ne
ni

Plasma
Have neglected
pre-sheath region
0

ne~ 0

electrode
+
ne(t) + + + n + + + e+
Sm X
S(t)
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RF Sheath Analysis

After Lieberman

Assume Jrf = Jo sin t


Sheath oscillation is near sinusoidal
s ~ so sin t Max Sheath width sm~ 2so

Analysis gives

s = J ns

Sheath width, s, increases with Jrf


s decreases with frequency and plasma density
Charge stored in sheath Q = e s m (ni n )dx
e
sh
o
Poissons Eq

d 2V / dx 2

DC Sheath voltage

= e(n ( x) n ( x)) /
i

Vs 1.3 J o e o 2 ns

DC sheath voltage increases with RF current


and decreases with RF frequency

ni

+ +
+ ++
ne
0

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Vdc Depends on Irf and Electrode Geometry

Self bias voltage Vdc is the externally measured voltage


Vdc is sum of two sheath sheath voltages
Asymmetric

J rf = I rf / A
V(t)
S2

J rf 1 < J rf 2

S1

Vs1 < Vs 2

Typically Vs1 << Vs 2 and Vs1 10 to 15V

Vp
0

V dc

A1 > A2 (Used to avoid sputtering gnd electode)

Self Bias

Vdc = Vs1 Vs 2 Vs 2
Vrf
Swing

Vdc 1.3 I rf e o 2 ns A2
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Summarizing CCP Characteristics


The plasma is generated by RF current flow between electrodes
Plasma density (ne) tends to increase linearly with RF power
RF current across a sheath generates a dc voltage
Ions gain energy from the dc sheath voltage
In CC plasmas, ne and Eion tend to be coupled and increase together
Ways to gain independent control of ne and Eion
Use non-CCP method, such as ICP or ECR, to generate plasma
and use CCP for bias (energy) control
Use high freq ( > 50 MHz) RF to generate ne and low freq (< 10
MHz) for bias plasma generation
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Use of Inductive Coupled Plasmas (ICP) as Low Bias Source


Simple ICP
Lam Style ICP

Toroid of high density plasma

Current in coil induces


current loop in plasma
in glass tube

B field lines have been compressed


because opposing B field from induced
current loop in plasma toroid

In ICP power is transferred to plasma by the oscillating B field.


There is minimum rf current going across a sheath, so the sheath
voltage is usually small
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ICP Configurations
RF for plasma generat

Substrate

Chamber

RF bias

Inductive coupling can generate high density plasmas with


low sheath voltages.
ICP power controls plasma density, ne .
Capacitive coupling of a 2nd rf source drives rf current through
wafer sheath and is used to control ion energy, Ei .
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Ion Directionality
+ Ti Ions enters sheath with transverse energy of Ti
Plasma

Sheath

+
Vsh
-

E
+

Wafer

Free-fall

Collisional

At 13.6 MHz most ions respond only to the average (DC) sheath
field
Ions gain directionality and energy crossing the sheath
+
Ion directionality strongly affects
Etch bow (side wall etching)
Electron shading type charging

++
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Collisionless Sheath Ion Directionality

Vs

= tan 1

Direction of
mean ion

T
i
eV
s

IAD

Ti

Ion directionality determined by Vs and Ti at sheath edge

Mean ion arrives at wafer degrees off the normal


Ti is determined by collisions in pre-sheath and energy at ion
creation. Typically, Ti

0.5 eV

Example: If Ti = 0.5 eV and Vs = 100V ~ 4.0

4.0
Sheath voltage control is essential for etch control

For anisotropic etching, typically we need

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Beyond Simple DC Biasing:


RF Effects on Ions Crossing Sheath

After Barnes et al, 1991

For Ar @ 1 mT

Vsdc = 27V
Te = 5eV
Ti = 0.5ev
ne = 1 x 1011

Vsdc = 100V
Te = 2eV
Ti = 0.05ev
ne = 5 x 109

50 MHz
25 MHz
10 MHz
5 MHz
2.5 MHz
1.0 MHz
0.5 MHz

50 MHz

25 MHz
10 MHz
5 MHz
2.5 MHz
1.0 MHz
0.5 MHz

For an oscillating rf sheath, the ion energy distribution (IED) at wafer surface
depends strongly on sheath transit effect
IED tends to be bimodal with ion decreasing with increasing RF frequency
IED strongly affected by ion mass, sheath thickness, and Vsheath waveform
IED can strongly affect etch profile
Higher energy ions will have smaller Ion Angular Distribution (IAD)

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Using Bias Frequency to Control Etch Profile


After Schaepkens 1999

-85V, 1.3 MHz

-120V, 1.3 MHz -85V, 10.5 MHz -120V, 10.5 MHz

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AMAT Oxide Etcher With Dual Bias Frequency


AMAT PEUG 2007 Talk

2 MHz and 13 MHz for bias


VHF for plasma generation
VHF

low Vp

ICP not used for Ox etch

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Use of Mixed Bias Freq to Improve Ox Etch


AMAT PEUG 2007 Talk

13 MHz only

13 MHz/2 MHz
13 MHz only

13 MHz/2 MHz

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Summary
DC self bias is a result of rf current flowing across a plasma sheath
Increases with rf current and decreases with rf frequency
RF biasing applied to wafer to control Ei in high density plasma systems
Biasing is needed for controlled anisotropic etching
Recent etch equipment designs go beyond simple DC biasing to shape
energy distribution of ions bombarding wafer surface to better control
etch characteristics

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