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Inductively coupled plasma (ICP) reactors are being developed for low gas pressure (≪10s mTorr) and high plasma density ([e]≳1011 cm-3) microelectronics fabrication. In these reactors, the plasma is generated by the inductively coupled electric field while an additional radio frequency (rf) bias is applied to the substrate. One of the goals of these systems is to independently control the magnitude of the ion flux by the inductively coupled power deposition, and the acceleration of ions into the substrate by the rf bias. In high plasma density reactors the width of the sheath above the wafer may be sufficiently thin that ions are able to traverse it in approximately 1 rf cycle, even at 13.56 MHz. As a consequence, the ion energy distribution (IED) may have a shape typically associated with lower frequency operation in conventional reactive ion etching tools. In this paper, we present results from a computer model for the IED incident on the wafer in ICP etching reactors. We find that in the parameter space of interest, the shape of the IED depends both on the amplitude of the rf bias and on the ICP power. The former quantity determines the average energy of the IED. The latter quantity controls the width of the sheath, the transit time of ions across the sheath and hence the width of the IED. In general, high ICP powers (thinner sheaths) produce wider IEDs. © 1996 American Institute of Physics.
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