SPIE Advanced Lithography 2017
Conference paper

Guiding gate-etch process development using 3D surface reaction modeling for 7nm and beyond

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Increasingly, advanced process nodes such as 7nm (N7) are fundamentally 3D and require stringent control of critical dimensions over high aspect ratio features. Process integration in these nodes requires a deep understanding of complex physical mechanisms to control critical dimensions from lithography through final etch. Polysilicon gate etch processes are critical steps in several device architectures for advanced nodes that rely on self-aligned patterning approaches to gate definition. These processes are required to meet several key metrics: (a) vertical etch profiles over high aspect ratios; (b) clean gate sidewalls free of etch process residue; (c) minimal erosion of liner oxide films protecting key architectural elements such as fins; and (e) residue free corners at gate interfaces with critical device elements. In this study, we explore how hybrid modeling approaches can be used to model a multi-step finFET polysilicon gate etch process. Initial parts of the patterning process through hardmask assembly are modeled using process emulation. Important aspects of gate definition are then modeled using a particle Monte Carlo (PMC) feature scale model that incorporates surface chemical reactions.1 When necessary, species and energy flux inputs to the PMC model are derived from simulations of the etch chamber. The modeled polysilicon gate etch process consists of several steps including a hard mask breakthrough step (BT), main feature etch steps (ME), and over-etch steps (OE) that control gate profiles at the gate fin interface. An additional constraint on this etch flow is that fin spacer oxides are left intact after final profile tuning steps. A natural optimization required from these processes is to maximize vertical gate profiles while minimizing erosion of fin spacer films.2