Dow Corning, Axcelis look to future with ultra-low-k process

June 6, 2001 – Beverly, MA, and Midland, MI – Axcelis Technologies Inc. and Dow Corning Corp. are working together to develop a novel process that enables use of porous ultra-low-k dielectric materials in next-generation semiconductor manufacturing.

Developed under an ongoing joint development program, the new process delivers “unsurpassed” mechanical strength for a porous low-k dielectric, the companies reported. The process has been demonstrated using Dow Corning XLK Spin-on Dielectric (k=2.0). Results have shown a high mechanical strength (greater than 6GPa), while at the same time maintaining the ultra low dielectric constant values.

Under the agreement, the companies will demonstrate the advanced process technology using XLK at Dow’s Global Applications Center in Midland. Axcelis will install a prototype system — a 300mm bridge tool– at the facility to enable this activity.

As the industry migrates to smaller device geometries, semiconductor manufacturers will require dielectric materials with k values lower than 2.0. In order to achieve low k values, film porosity will be increased, which often does not result in materials with the mechanical strength needed to withstand CMP and other rigorous semiconductor manufacturing process steps.

This newly developed technology specifically addresses these concerns by hardening and strengthening porous ultra-low-k dielectrics, and easing their integration into advanced process flows.

“Chipmakers will need ultra-low-k dielectrics in order to continue improving device performances, but the smooth integration of these porous materials is a huge challenge,” said Michael Dreyer, VP and general manager of Axcelis Technologies’ Photoresist Processing Division. “By using advanced process technologies that we have within our technology portfolio, we can strengthen low-k films and minimize process flow integration worries. Axcelis’ process and equipment expertise coupled with Dow Corning’s low-k dielectric leadership clears a major technology barrier for our customers.”

“Developing a hardened material like XLK is a key part of Dow Corning’s customer commitment to meet and surpass 70nm dielectric material requirements, where full integration is a necessity,” said Phil Dembowski, application development manager for Dow’s Semiconductor Fabrication Materials business unit. “Our goal of providing significant benefits for the most advanced technology applications has led to this relationship, and the development of this enabling technology for ultra-low-k dielectric materials.”


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