Journal of Applied Physics

Plasma processing for advanced microelectronics beyond CMOS

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The scientific study of plasma discharges and their material interactions has been crucial to the development of semiconductor process engineering and, by extension, the entire microelectronics industry. In recent years, the proliferation of the big data business model has led to heightened interest in technology candidates with the potential to supplant CMOS architectures in critical metrics such as computational capacity or power consumption. These novel technologies share many common material elements with existing logic and memory devices, but the impact of mass fabrication techniques on their performance is largely unknown due to differences in the underlying physics of their operation. Two components are thus vital to this endeavor: fundamental evaluation of any emerging plasma process interactions and the ability to tailor any aspect of the plasma process necessary to produce the desired specifications. In this article, we review relevant advances in the study of plasma-induced damage mechanisms as well as characterization methods such as diagnostic probes and simulation tools. We also provide an outlook for the application of techniques such as plasma doping, area-selective etch/deposition, and heterogeneous integration. The frontiers of any new computing paradigms can only be explored through a focus on atomic scale engineering, and progress in the field of plasma science supplies the necessary toolset.