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An effective approach to improve silicon nitride thickness uniformity has been demonstrated on a batch LPCVD furnace platform. Implementation of adaptive real-time temperature control provides accurate, real-time estimation of substrate temperature profiles that enables model-based optimization of process temperature. Optimization of a 200-nm silicon nitride deposition yielded long-term, overall nitride thickness uniformity of 0.79% 1σ over a seven-week period, compared to 1.24% for an equivalent PID-tuned process. Three sequential silicon nitride deposition iterations were implemented in the process recipe to enable increased temperature ramp rates for more efficient optimization of within-wafer uniformity. The optimized process requalified quickly after major and minor equipment maintenance, and is suitable for use in a manufacturing environment. The ART-optimized temperature ramp intervals used in this study are comparable to temperature deltas often used to offset dichlorosilane depletion effects encountered in some large-batch vertical furnace depositions. SIMS depth profiling of ART-optimized silicon nitride does reveal small oxygen and chlorine peaks, indicating slight interface formation between deposition steps.
Date of Publication: Feb 2003