News Column

Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Metal Processing Using High Density Plasma", for Approval

July 24, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Politics & Government Week -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventor Hua, Zhong Qiang (Saratoga, CA), filed on January 29, 2013, was made available online on July 10, 2014.

The patent's assignee is Applied Materials, Inc.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Conventional thermal CVD processes supply reactive gases to the substrate surface where the heat from the surface induces chemical reactions to produce a film. Improvements in deposition rate and film properties have been achieved through the use of plasma sources to assist the chemical reactions. Plasma enhanced CVD ('PECVD') techniques promote excitation, dissociation, and ionization of the reactant gases by the application of radio frequency ('RF') energy to a reaction zone near the substrate surface, thereby creating a plasma. The high reactivity of the species in the plasma reduces the energy required to activate a chemical reaction. This effectively lowers the substrate temperature required for PECVD processes as compared to conventional thermal CVD processes. Reducing the substrate temperature is attractive because it lowers the chances of diffusion or other mass transport effects which may cause a reduction in the yield of the manufacturing process.

"Further improvements have been enabled by high density plasma ('HDP') CVD techniques, in which a dense plasma is formed at low vacuum pressures so that the plasma species are even more reactive. HDP-CVD allows the use of lower partial pressures of reactant gases while maintaining a higher ionic concentration. HDP-CVD also allows the accelerating energy to be controlled independently of the ionization energy. There are a number of material changes that result from depositing films with a high density plasma in addition to distinctions associated with patterned wafer processing. When films are deposited with HDP-CVD method the resultant film may possess a higher density than other CVD methods.

"High density films are useful for etch stops, polishing stops and seals against molecular diffusion either during processing or during operation of an integrated circuit. Silicon nitride, for example, has been used as a barrier layer between a premetal dielectric layer and the semiconductor substrate. New processing techniques are needed to broaden the range of applications for high density films."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent application: "Methods of forming dielectric layers using high-density plasma chemical vapor deposition are described. Dielectric layers are formed over metal films. The metal film is present on a substrate prior to entering the high-density plasma processing chamber. The metal film is processed to remove oxidation and to improve adhesion of the dielectric layer to the metal film.

"Embodiments of the invention include methods for depositing a dielectric layer on a metal surface of a substrate in a substrate processing region of a substrate processing chamber. The methods include the sequential steps of transferring the substrate into the substrate processing region. The methods further include deoxidizing the substrate with a deoxidation high-density plasma to remove an oxidation layer. The deoxidation high-density plasma comprises hydrogen (H) but is silicon-free, carbon-free, nitrogen-free, fluorine-free and oxygen-free. The methods further include forming the dielectric layer on the substrate in the same substrate processing region used for treating the substrate by forming a deposition high density plasma in the substrate processing region from a deposition process gas comprising a silicon source. The methods further include removing the substrate from the substrate processing region.

"Additional embodiments and features are set forth in part in the description that follows, and in part will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon examination of the specification or may be learned by the practice of the disclosed embodiments. The features and advantages of the disclosed embodiments may be realized and attained by means of the instrumentalities, combinations, and methods described in the specification.


"A further understanding of the nature and advantages of the disclosed embodiments may be realized by reference to the remaining portions of the specification and the drawings.

"FIG. 1 is a flow chart indicating selected steps in growing a silicon nitride film according to disclosed embodiments.

"FIG. 2A is a simplified diagram of one embodiment of a high-density-plasma chemical-vapor-deposition system according to embodiments of the invention.

"FIG. 2B is a simplified cross section of a gas ring that may be used in conjunction with the exemplary processing system of FIG. 2A.

"In the appended figures, similar components and/or features may have the same reference label. Further, various components of the same type may be distinguished by following the reference label by a dash and a second label that distinguishes among the similar components. If only the first reference label is used in the specification, the description is applicable to any one of the similar components having the same first reference label irrespective of the second reference label."

For additional information on this patent application, see: Hua, Zhong Qiang. Metal Processing Using High Density Plasma. Filed January 29, 2013 and posted July 10, 2014. Patent URL:

Keywords for this news article include: Silicon, Nanotechnology, Emerging Technologies, Applied Materials Inc., Chemical Vapor Deposition.

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Source: Politics & Government Week

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