Journal of Applied Physics

Characterization of porous low- k films using variable angle spectroscopic ellipsometry

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Variable angle spectroscopic ellipsometry (VASE) is used as a tool to characterize properties such as optical constant, thickness, refractive index depth profile, and pore volume fraction of single and bilayer porous low- k films. The porous films were prepared using sacrificial pore generator (porogen) approach. Two sets of porous films with open- and closed-pore geometries were measured. Three models were used for data analysis: Cauchy, Bruggeman effective medium approximation (BEMA), and graded layer. Cauchy, a well-known model for transparent films, was used to obtain thickness and optical constant, whereas BEMA was utilized to calculate the pore volume fraction from the ellipsometric data. The Cauchy or BEMA models were then modified as graded layers, resulting in a better fit and a better understanding of the porous film. The depth profile of the porous film implied a more porous layer at the substrate-film interface. We found 3%-4% more porosity at the interface compared with the bulk for both films. This work shows that VASE, a nondestructive measurement tool, can be used to characterize single- and multigraded layer porous films quickly and effectively. © 2006 American Institute of Physics.