The surface roughness evolutions of single crystal silicon, thermal silicon dioxide (SiO2), and low dielectric constant film coral in argon plasma have been measured by atomic force microscopy as a function of ion bombardment energy, ion impingement angle, and etching time in an inductively coupled plasma beam chamber, in which the plasma chemistry, ion energy, ion flux, and ion incident angle can be adjusted independently. The sputtering yield (or etching rate) scales linearly with the square root of ion energy at normal impingement angle; additionally, the angular dependence of the etching yield of all films in argon plasma followed the typical sputtering yield curve, with a maximum around 60°–70° off-normal angle. All films stayed smooth after etching at normal angle but typically became rougher at grazing angles. In particular, at grazing angles the rms roughness level of all films increased if more material was removed; additionally, the striation structure formed at grazing angles can be either parallel or transverse to the beam impingement direction, which depends on the off-normal angle. More interestingly, the sputtering caused roughness evolution at different off-normal angles can be qualitatively explained by the corresponding angular dependent etching yield curve. In addition, the roughening at grazing angles is a strong function of the type of surface; specifically, coral suffers greater roughening compared to thermal silicon dioxide.

You do not currently have access to this content.