The design of future generations of Cu-low-k dielectric interconnects with reduced electronic crosstalk often requires engineering materials with an optimal trade off between their dielectric constant and elastic modulus. This is because the benefits associated with the reduction of the dielectric constant by increasing the porosity of materials, for example, can adversely affect their mechanical integrity during processing. By using load-dependent contact-resonance atomic force microscopy, the changes in the elastic modulus of low-k dielectric materials due to processing were accurately measured. These changes were linked to alterations sustained by the structure of low-k dielectric films during processing. A two-phase model was used for quantitative assessments of the elastic modulus changes undergone by the organosilicate skeleton of the structure of porous and pore-filled dielectrics.

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