Post Plasma Etch Residue Removal Using Carbon Dioxide Based Fluids
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As feature sizes in semiconductor devices become smaller and newer materials are incorporated, current methods for photoresist and post plasma etch residue removal face several challenges. A cleaning process should be environmentally benign, compatible with dielectric materials and copper, and provide residue removal from narrow and high aspect ratio features. In this work, sub-critical CO2 based mixtures have been developed to remove the etch residues; these mixtures satisfy the above requirements and can potentially replace the two step residue removal process currently used in the integrated circuit (IC) industry. Based on the chemical nature of the residue being removed, additives or co-solvents to CO2 have been identified that can remove the residues without damaging the dielectric layers. Using the phase behavior of these additives as a guide, the composition of the co-solvent was altered to achieve a single liquid phase at moderate pressures without compromising cleaning ability. The extent of residue removal has been analyzed primarily by x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Various techniques such as attenuated total reflection - Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy, angle-resolved XPS (ARXPS), and interferometry were used to probe the interaction of cleaning fluids with residues. Model films of photoresists and plasma deposited residues were used to assist in understanding the mechanism of residue removal. From these studies, it was concluded that residue removal takes place primarily by attack of the interface between the residue and the substrate; a solvent rinse then lifts these residues from the wafer. It has been shown that transport of the additives to the interface is enhanced in the presence of CO2. From positronium annihilation lifetime spectroscopy (PALS) studies on a porous dielectric film, it has been shown that these high pressure fluids do not cause significant changes to the pore sizes or the bonding structure of the film. Hence, this method can be used to remove post etch residues from low-k dielectric films.