SEZ and Air Liquide team to develop etch solutions for advanced metal-gate materials

Leaders investigate single-wafer-compatible chemistries that offer optimal performance and cost of ownership for deep-sub-micron applications

VILLACH, Austria and PARIS, July 11 /PRNewswire/ — The SEZ Group , the market leader and premier innovator in single-wafer cleaning solutions for the semiconductor industry, and Air Liquide (Euronext Paris), the world leader in industrial and medical gases and related services, today announced they are joining forces to solve the chemistry challenges associated with front-end-of-line (FEOL) advanced metal-gate etch. High-k gate dielectrics and advance metal gate electrodes at the 45-nm technology node are expected to present a number of processing challenges, including the removal of unwanted backside and bevel deposited films containing the metal electrode materials. Driven by separate but complementary joint-development programs with leading atomic layer deposition (ALD) company Aviza Technology, SEZ and Air Liquide will seek to co-develop a total, synergistic solution for advanced etch materials that offers chipmakers the best possible performance with the lowest cost of ownership (CoO).

According to Christophe Fontaine, vice president of electronics at Air Liquide, “We look forward to collaborating with SEZ to solve this emerging process challenge, developing new chemistries germane to immediate, as well as future, technology needs. Both companies bring unique and complementary capabilities to this project — Air Liquide, with the expertise necessary to develop a selective etchant and to market it within our ALOHA(TM) product line, and SEZ, with unmatched wafer-backside processing technology.”

One side effect of both ALD and chemical vapor deposition (CVD) techniques is that film material is deposited on the wafer backside. Contamination from these films can be transferred to other wafers through shared handling, and the films themselves have the potential to delaminate and flake, becoming a serious particle concern. Thus, any film material must be removed from both the backside and bevel edge. The problem is that many of these materials are very difficult to wet etch, particularly with any degree of selectivity to the underlying material layer.

Since dry etching the backside and bevel is not an option, an appropriate wet-etch solution must be developed. Because there needs to be isolation between the wafer front- and backside to protect the devices, the best wet-etch solution is one employing a single-wafer spin processor using an effective process chemistry. For example, although there is strong interest in using ruthenium (Ru) as an advanced metal-gate material, one of its inherent properties is its strong resistance to chemical attack, making Ru metal removal a challenging proposition.

Leveraging SEZ’s expertise in single-wafer wet surface-preparation and film removal for advanced technologies together with Air Liquide’s in-depth knowledge of processing chemistry, the two companies’ initial focus will be on finding a viable solution for Ru removal, enabling its use for advanced metal gates. Air Liquide will develop chemical formulations in their application labs, and SEZ will then test the novel chemical solutions on its established semiconductor single-wafer tools at its Phoenix, Ariz. facility.

“This alliance will offer SEZ an opportunity to work with the industry’s leading electronics materials company to develop an effective chemistry compatible with our spin processor platform,” stated Dr. Leo Archer, SEZ’s director of emerging technologies worldwide. “The ability to offer customers an effective clean for complex materials such as Ru utilizing SEZ’s core technology could open new market opportunities for us. Moreover, a chemistry that would be capable of effectively etching Ru is highly likely to be able to efficiently etch other critical advanced metal-gate materials as well, delivering improved cost of ownership to our customers and creating a host of new opportunities for additional applications.”

Air Liquide and the SEZ Group will be exhibiting at SEMICON West 2005, July 12-14, at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, Calif. Readers interested in obtaining more information about their alliance or learning more about each company and its products are invited to visit Air Liquide in the North Hall at Booth #5302, or SEZ Group in the North Hall at Booth #5568.

About Air Liquide

Founded in 1902, Air Liquide is the world leader in industrial and medical gases, and a major chemical supplier and service company with a presence in multiple industries, from electronics to medical to aerospace. The company’s annual sales in 2004 exceeded US$10 billion, 10 percent of which was derived from the electronics market. In the semiconductor market, Air Liquide supplies general and specialty gases, chemical, and accessories to many of the world’s largest integrated device manufacturers (IDMs). Air Liquide is presently represented in over 70 countries. More information can be found at

About SEZ Group

The SEZ Group is the leading provider of single-wafer, wet-processing solutions for the global semiconductor industry, with an installed base of over 900 tools. The company maintains operations in Asia-Pacific, Europe, Japan, and North America. SEZ Holding AG is traded on the SWX Swiss Exchange under the symbol SEZN. Additional information about the company is available on the Internet at

Source: The SEZ Group

CONTACT: Heinz Oyrer of SEZ Group, +43-4242-204-455, or fax,
+43-4242-204-469, or [email protected]; or Brandy L. Lee of MCA,
+1-650-968-8900, or fax, +1-650-968-8990, or [email protected], for SEZ; or
Olivier Letessier of Air Liquide Electronics, +33-1-40-62-5234, or fax,
+33-1-40-62-1823, or [email protected], for SEZ Group

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