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PVD Principles Key To The Microelectronics Industry

In this technical article, we emphasize materials, processes, and applications relative to the world of microelectronics. As LiDT (Laser induced Damage Threshold) mitigation technology challenges materials and deposition technologies to meet performance requirements for laser optics, the fabrication of integrated circuits in the microelectronics industry requires optimization at each step, from wafer to device. Layer by layer, lithographic patterning, metal and dielectric coating, selective chemical and plasma etching, and process control are employed to minimize cost and maximize performance of the device.  

We will address fundamentals of physical vapor deposition (PVD) processes that are deeply embedded in the fabrication of microelectronic devices. As transistors and gates shrink, the quality of the metal, insulator or semiconductor, in addition to their processing, impact the performance of the device. Device feature size is dependent on the wavelength of the pattern projected through the photolithographic mask. To achieve the highest resolution and smallest physical features, transmissive excimer DUV lithography and reflective EUV lithography are employed to meet the needs of the industry. 

Choice of PVD Deposition Process

PVD processes are used in microelectronic device fabrication and as seed layers for plating. PVD includes thermal evaporation by e-beam or resistance-heated evaporation and sputter deposition.  

Advantages of Employing PVD Processes

PVD coatings are hard, more amorphous and homogeneous, and have high temperature durability, good impact strength, and excellent abrasion resistance. Therefore, protective topcoats are rarely needed on high-performance devices.

  • PVD processes utilize virtually any type of inorganic and some organic coating materials on an equally diverse group of substrates and surfaces across a range of processing temperatures.
  • Sputtered seed layers work in concert with electroplating and are compatible with many types of photoresist and removal techniques.
  • More than one technique can be used to deposit a given film allowing them to be combined in cluster tools or stand alone as a batch process. 

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