Austin, TX (25 April 2005) -Using a selected set of tools and processes, SEMATECH
engineers have achieved twin breakthroughs in channel mobility and reliability
of high-k/metal gate transistors, putting high-k technology for CMOS within
reach at the 45 nm technology node.
The SEMATECH advance involves a titanium nitride (TiN) metal gate on a hafnium
silicate (HfSiO) dielectric with an equivalent oxide thickness (EOT) of roughly
10 angstroms (Å), with mobility at 90 percent of the universal mobility
curve for silicon dioxide (SiO2), the historic gate dielectric material. These
EOT and mobility metrics meet the 45 nm technology node specifications listed
by the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS).
The achievement caps a lengthy effort within SEMATECH's Front End Processes Division,
and is part of a program to fully enable the eventual introduction of high-k/metal
gate technology in volume manufacturing. The process is not expected to add significant
cost to current CMOS product flows.
"SEMATECH's high-k process represents a significant step in the search for
a complete solution to planar CMOS at the 45 nm node and beyond," said Byoung
Hun Lee, manager of the Advanced Gate Stack Program. "We are also working
to produce a dual metal gate that can work with this process. Plus, these breakthroughs
have applications for specialty architectures, such as FinFETs or fully depleted
Tests of SEMATECH wafers at Yale University confirmed the quality of the high-k
dielectrics, according to T.P. Ma, chairman of Yale's Department of Electrical
Engineering. "The mobility results that we recently obtained on SEMATECH's
test wafers were truly outstanding, which are consistent with the low densities
of interface traps in these wafers. Having seen these results first-hand, I am
a lot more optimistic than ever before about the practical implementation of
high-k gate dielectrics in the foreseeable future."
In explaining the significance of the SEMATECH process, Lee said that new materials
and techniques must be found for transistors as their size decrease into the
deep sub-100 nm regime. One of the serious challenges the industry faces is developing
new gate dielectric materials. For decades, silicon dioxide (SiO2) was a reliable
dielectric, but as transistors have continued to shrink, the reliability of the
SiO2-based gate dielectric is reaching its physical limits, while the technical
challenges of using that dielectric are increasing rapidly.
One solution is to use other materials, such as hafnium-based metal oxides, for
gate dielectrics. These high-k materials, so-called because of their high dielectric
constant (k), can be made much thicker than SiO2 while achieving the same gate
capacitance - the ability to turn a gate on and off, allowing it to process data.
SEMATECH has aggressively pursued the high-k option for the past eight years,
in broad collaboration with several universities and equipment suppliers to identify
materials and processes in time to meet member company and industry manufacturing
Lee noted that in order to implement metal/high-k technology at the 45 nm node,
slated by the ITRS for initial volume production in 2010, metal/high-k devices
must perform well in three areas: mobility, reliability, and threshold voltage
Mobility is the speed at which an electron can travel through a material, such
as silicon channel region. Critical to electron mobility in a silicon-based transistor
is the interface between silicon and the gate dielectric, with the SiO2 gate
dielectric setting the standard. While high-k dielectrics historically have tended
to show low electron mobility, SEMATECH's Hf-silicate performed at 90 percent
of universal mobility, which is very close to a SiO2-based gate dielectric at
Also, Lee said SEMATECH's Hf-silicate process demonstrated exceptional results
not only for mobility, but also for reliability, as measured by Vth instability.
For an optimized process, the SEMATECH material reached one of the project's
goals by showing a Vth instability of less than 10 millivolts (mV) after 1,000
seconds of constant voltage stress at 22 megavolts per centimeter (MV/cm). This
result is about 10 times better than the comparable reliability of high-k materials
typically shown in industry reports.
"What this means is that we have a high-k process with mobility similar
to the heavily nitrided silicon oxynitride [SiON] dielectric which is currently
in manufacturing, but with reduced gate leakage current," said Paul Kirsch,
manager of SEMATECH's Advanced Gate Dielectric Project. "We have established
a tool set and have identified several process parameters to reach this point." Kirsch
added SEMATECH is making rapid progress in solving the challenge of Vth controllability
and plans a subsequent announcement on that issue.
"This is a significant enabler for SEMATECH member companies to continue
traditional planar CMOS transistor scaling," Lee said. "As manufacturers
make their decisions on how to approach the 45 nm node, they will find that SEMATECH's
work enhances the availability of high-k for that node. Our expectation is that
within a year, we will resolve the key issues in the implementation of metal/high-k
gates stack into conventional CMOS flow."
Lee credited Kirsch and SEMATECH engineers Naim Moumen, Prashant Majhi, Seungchul
Song, Rino Choi and Gennadi Bersuker with developing these breakthroughs in the
consortium's high-k dielectric process.
is a global semiconductor technology development
consortium that has effectively represented the semiconductor
manufacturing industry on innovation issues since
1988. SEMATECH conducts state-of-the-art research,
and is a highly-regarded technology partner whose
goal is to promote the interests common to all chipmakers.
It has extensive experience collaborating with equipment
and materials suppliers, as well as government and
academic research centers, to refine the tools and
technology necessary to produce future generations
of chips. Additional information may be found at
SEMATECH, the SEMATECH logo, AMRC, Advanced Materials
Research Center, ATDF, the ATDF logo, Advanced Technology
Development Facility, ISMI and International SEMATECH
Manufacturing Initiative are servicemarks of SEMATECH,
Inc. All other servicemarks and trademarks are the
property of their respective owners