Thermal atomic layer etching (ALE) for SiO2 films with self-limiting behavior on the surface modification step was developed using sequential exposure to HF and NH3 gases followed by infrared (IR) annealing. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy analysis showed that an (NH4)2SiF6-based surface-modified layer was formed on the SiO2 surface after gas exposures and that this layer was removed using IR annealing. The etch per cycle (EPC) of the ALE process saturated at 0.9 nm/cycle as the gas exposure times increased. With this self-limiting behavior, SiO2 was etched with high selectivity to poly-Si and Si3N4. The dependence of the EPC on the partial pressures of HF and NH3 was found to be in good agreement with the Langmuir adsorption model. This indicated that the HF and NH3 molecules were in equilibrium between adsorption and desorption during the exposure, which resulted in the self-limiting formation of the modified layer. In addition to the process with an HF gas flow, it was demonstrated that an H2/SF6 plasma can replace the HF gas exposure step to supply the SiO2 surfaces with HF molecules. The EPC saturated at 2.7 nm/cycle, while no measurable thickness change was observed for poly-Si and Si3N4 films.
Atomic layer etching of SiO2 with self-limiting behavior on the surface modification step using sequential exposure of HF and NH3
Nobuya Miyoshi, Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Kazunori Shinoda, Masaru Kurihara, Kohei Kawamura, Yutaka Kouzuma, Masaru Izawa; Atomic layer etching of SiO2 with self-limiting behavior on the surface modification step using sequential exposure of HF and NH3. J. Vac. Sci. Technol. A 1 January 2022; 40 (1): 012601. https://doi.org/10.1116/6.0001517
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