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Benefits of plasma treatments on critical dimension control and line width roughness transfer during gate patterning

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7 Author(s)
Azarnouche, Laurent ; STMicroelectronics, 850 rue Jean Monnet, 38926 Crolles Cedex, France ; Pargon, Erwine ; Menguelti, Kevin ; Fouchier, Marc
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The present work focuses on the line width roughness (LWR) transfer and the critical dimension control during a typical gate stack patterning and shows the benefits of introducing 193 nm photoresist treatments before pattern transfer into the gate stack to improve process performance. The two investigated treatments (HBr plasma and vacuum ultra violet (VUV) plasma radiation) have been tested on both blanket photoresist films and resist patterns to highlight the etching and roughening mechanisms of cured resists. Both treatments reinforce the etch resistance of the photoresist exposed to fluorocarbon plasma etching process used to open the Si-ARC (silicon antireflective coating) layer. The etch resistance improvement of cured resists is attributed to both the decrease in oxygen content within the resist and the crosslinking phenomena caused by VUV radiation during the treatment. As the magnitude of the surface roughness is directly correlated to the etched thickness, cured resists, which are etched less rapidly, will develop a lower surface roughness for the same processing time compared to reference resists. The LWR evolution along the pattern sidewalls has been studied by critical dimension atomic force microscopy during the Si-ARC plasma etching step. The study shows that the LWR is degraded at the top of the resist pattern and propagates along the pattern sidewalls. However, as long as the degradation does not reach the interface between resist and Si-ARC, the LWR decreases during the Si-ARC etching step. As resist pretreatments reinforce the resist etch resistance during Si-ARC etching, the LWR degradation along the sidewalls is limited leading to minimized LWR transfer. The LWR decrease observed after plasma etching has been explained thanks to a spectral analysis of the LWR performed by critical dimension scanning electron microscopy combined with the power spectral density fitting method. The study shows that the high and medium frequency components - f the roughness (periodicity below 200 nm) are not totally transferred during the gate patterning allowing a LWR decrease at each plasma step.

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Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology B: Microelectronics and Nanometer Structures  (Volume:31 ,  Issue: 1 )