The efficacy of post porosity plasma protection against vacuum-ultraviolet damage in porous low-k materials
As of today, plasma damage remains as one of the main challenges to the reliable integration of porous low-k materials into microelectronic devices at the most aggressive node. One promising strategy to limit damage of porous low-k materials during plasma processing is an approach we refer to as post porosity plasma protection (P4). In this approach, the pores of the low-k material are filled with a sacrificial agent prior to any plasma treatment, greatly minimizing the total damage by limiting the physical interactions between plasma species and the low-k material. Interestingly, the contribution of the individual plasma species to the total plasma damage is not fully understood. In this study, we investigated the specific damaging effect of vacuum-ultraviolet (v-UV) photons on a highly porous, k = 2.0 low-k material and we assessed the P4 protective effect against them. It was found that the impact of the v-UV radiation varied depending upon the v-UV emission lines of the plasma. More importantly, we successfully demonstrated that the P4 process provides excellent protection against v-UV damage.