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International SEMATECH Identifies Process for Non-Damaging High-k Removal.

Business Editors/High-Tech Writers

AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 27, 2003

Engineers and technicians at International SEMATECH (ISMT) have pioneered an etch process that allows the removal of high-k film from a wafer surface without damaging the underlying silicon.

The new process eases the way to implementation of advanced gate stacks, which are critical to the continued proliferation of IC transistors, which in turn are the foundation of semiconductor processing capability and the electronics industry.

"This is a major accomplishment for our program, with positive implications for the semiconductor industry," said Robert Murto, manager of ISMT's Advanced Gate Stack Program. "We've been able to achieve one of our major program goals -- identifying a post-gate stack etch clean process compatible with high-k materials."

A high-k material has a dielectric constant ("k" value) larger than that of silicon dioxide, the industry standard gate dielectric material, thereby allowing retention of the gate capacitance even as the physical dielectric thickness increases.

This physical thickness difference results in high-k materials having much lower leakage current than silicon dioxide at an equivalent electrical thickness. High-k materials are required for continued gate dielectric scaling in high performance applications and for reduced leakage current in lower power (i.e., mobile) applications.

ISMT's high-k milestone was achieved in January 2003 by the Advanced Gate Clean project team (Naim Moumen (IBM) and Joel Barnett (ISMT)) using an innovative etch process to remove hafnium dioxide (HfO2) deposited by metal-organic chemical vapor deposition and atomic layer deposition processes.

This process was able to remove HfO2 after post-deposition annealing without causing damage to, or loss of, silicon material in the source-drain region, which is critical to the transistor series resistance and thus its maximum current. The process was conducted within ISMT's Advanced Technology Development Facility on 200 mm wafers at the 130 nm technology node.

HfO2 is part of a suite of new materials being tested in an effort to achieve breakthroughs in front end processes, which includes the initial manufacturing operations performed on a wafer up to first metalization.

International SEMATECH (ISMT) is a global semiconductor technology development consortium that has effectively represented the semiconductor manufacturing industry on innovation issues since 1988; its members are Agere Systems, AMD, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Infineon, Intel, Motorola, Philips, Texas Instruments and TSMC. ISMT conducts state-of-the-art research, and is a highly regarded technology partner whose mission is to promote the interests common to all chipmakers. It has extensive experience collaborating with equipment and materials suppliers, as well as government and academic research centers, to refine the tools and technology necessary to produce future generations of chips. Additional information may be found at

NOTE TO EDITORS: In the term "hafnium dioxide (HfO2)" above, the "2" in all HfO2 instances is a subscript. It was changed for transmission purposes only.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Mar 27, 2003
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