Applied Materials adds tungsten film planarization to CMP tool

Debra Vogler, senior technical editor

June 16, 2011 — Applied Materials Inc. unveiled the extension of its Reflexion GT chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) system to include planarization of tungsten (W) films. This CMP process is critical to fabricating the transistor contacts and vias in advanced DRAM, NAND and logic devices. In a podcast interview (listen below), Sidney Huey, director, CMP product manager, CMP Division, Silicon Systems Group at Applied Materials, describes in detail the technology drivers for CMP (logic/foundry, DRAM, Flash, and image sensors) as well as how the flatness specifications for advanced lithography are impacting CMP. As with the original copper platform, the new tool has a dual-mode architecture that enables two wafers to be processed simultaneously on each polishing pad, which increases throughput and cuts consumable costs.

Figure 1. Real-time profile control (RTPC) for tungsten. SOURCE: Applied Materials

The tool’s real-time profile control (RTPC) (Fig.1) provides closed-loop film thickness and uniformity control. Key to the technology is its eddy current sensing capabilities, which have been improved and enhanced beyond the tool’s original copper application. While much of the technology is not up for public discussion, Huey does describe the technology challenge in detail in the podcast.


 Profile drifts out over pad life.




 Profile stable over pad life.

Figure 2. RTPC provides stable uniformity over pad life. SOURCE: Applied Materials

In addition to the RTPC’s ability to provide closed-loop film thickness and uniformity control, is its ability to provide cost savings over the life of the pad (Fig. 2, Huey explains. According to the company, the tool’s dual-wafer architecture has enabled a more than 40% lower cost-per-wafer over competing systems.

 Listen to Huey’s interview:

  • Format: mp3
  • Length: 6:17
  • Size: 5.76 MB
  • Date: 06/16/11

For more information on the innovative Reflexion GT CMP system, visit

Applied Materials, Inc. (Nasdaq:AMAT) provides equipment, services and software to enable the manufacture of advanced semiconductor, flat panel display and solar photovoltaic products. Learn more at

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