Journal of Applied Physics

The effects of vacuum ultraviolet radiation on low-k dielectric films

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Plasmas, known to emit high levels of vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) radiation, are used in the semiconductor industry for processing of low-k organosilicate glass (SiCOH) dielectric device structures. VUV irradiation induces photoconduction, photoemission, and photoinjection. These effects generate trapped charges within the dielectric film, which can degrade electrical properties of the dielectric. The amount of charge accumulation in low-k dielectrics depends on factors that affect photoconduction, photoemission, and photoinjection. Changes in the photo and intrinsic conductivities of SiCOH are also ascribed to the changes in the numbers of charged traps generated during VUV irradiation. The dielectric-substrate interface controls charge trapping by affecting photoinjection of charged carriers into the dielectric from the substrate. The number of trapped charges increases with increasing porosity of SiCOH because of charge trapping sites in the nanopores. Modifications to these three parameters, i.e., (1) VUV induced charge generation, (2) dielectric-substrate interface, and (3) porosity of dielectrics, can be used to reduce trapped-charge accumulation during processing of low-κ SiCOH dielectrics. Photons from the plasma are responsible for trapped-charge accumulation within the dielectric, while ions stick primarily to the surface of the dielectrics. In addition, as the dielectric constant was decreased by adding porosity, the defect concentrations increased. © 2012 American Institute of Physics.