Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors


Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Cracking a Tough Nut for the Semiconductor Industry

Typical low-k film test for material toughness using the new NIST technique. The indentation instrument that punches the triangular hole registers the forces involved. That plus the length of the resulting cracks determines the toughness of the film, which is about 2.4 micrometers thick. (Color added for clarity.)

Credit: NIST
Typical low-k film test for material toughness using the new NIST technique. The indentation instrument that punches the triangular hole registers the forces involved. That plus the length of the resulting cracks determines the toughness of the film, which is about 2.4 micrometers thick. (Color added for clarity.)

Credit: NIST

Abstract:
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a method to measure the toughness—the resistance to fracture—of the thin insulating films that play a critical role in high-performance integrated circuits. The new technique could help improve the reliability and manufacturability of ICs and, better yet, it's one that state-of-the-art microelectronics manufacturers can use with equipment they already own.

Cracking a Tough Nut for the Semiconductor Industry

GAITHERSBURG, MD | Posted on December 23rd, 2008

At issue is the mechanical strength of so-called "low-k" dielectric layers—electrically insulating films only a couple of micrometers thick that are interleaved between layers of conductors and components in microprocessor chips and other high-performance semiconductor devices. As IC features like transistors have gotten ever smaller and crammed more closely together, designers are preventing electrical interference or "cross-talk" by making the insulating films more and more porous with nanoscale voids—but this has made them more fragile. Brittle fracture failure of low-k insulating films remains a problem for the industry, affecting both manufacturing yields and device reliability. To date, there has been no accurate method to measure the fracture resistance of such films, which makes it difficult to design improved dielectrics.

NIST researchers believe they have found an answer to the measurement problem in a new adaptation of a materials test technique called nanoindentation. Nanoindentation works by pressing a sharp, hard object—a diamond tip—and observing how much pressure it takes to deform the material. For roughly 20 years, researchers have known how to measure elasticity and plasticity—the forces needed to bend a material either temporarily or permanently—of materials at very small scales with nanoindenters. But toughness, the force needed to actually break the material, has been, well, tougher. Thin films were particularly problematic because they necessarily must be layered on top of another stronger material, such as a silicon wafer.

The new NIST technique requires a slight modification of the nanoindentation equipment—the probe has to have a sharper, more acute point than normally used—and a hefty dose of theory. Pressing carefully on the dielectric film generates cracks as small as 300 nanometers, which are measured by electron microscopy. Just how the cracks form depends on a complex interaction involving indentation force, film thickness, film stress and the elastic properties of the film and the silicon substrate. These variables are plugged into a new fracture mechanics model that predicts not only the fracture toughness but also another key value, the critical film thickness for spontaneous fracture.

Using this methodology, device manufacturers will be able to eliminate some candidate interconnect dielectric films from consideration without further expensive device testing. The measurement technique and model were published in a two-part series in the Journal of Materials Research.*

* D.J. Morris and R.F. Cook. Indentation fracture of low-dielectric constant films: Part I. Experiments and observations. J. Mater. Res., Vol. 23, No. 9, p. 2429.

* D.J. Morris and R.F. Cook. Indentation fracture of low-dielectric constant films: Part II. Indentation fracture mechanics model. J. Mater. Res., Vol. 23, No. 9, p. 2443.

####

About NIST
Founded in 1901, NIST is a non-regulatory federal agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce. NIST's mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Michael Baum

(301) 975-2763

Copyright © NIST

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

GLOBALFOUNDRIES to Expand Presence in China with 300mm Fab in Chongqing: Company plans new manufacturing facility and additional design capabilities to serve customers in China May 31st, 2016

Nanobiotix establishes promising preclinical proof-of-concept in Immuno Oncology May 31st, 2016

UK NANOSAFETY GROUP publishes 2nd Edition of guidance to support safe working with nanomaterials May 30th, 2016

Fast, stretchy circuits could yield new wave of wearable electronics May 30th, 2016

Chip Technology

GLOBALFOUNDRIES to Expand Presence in China with 300mm Fab in Chongqing: Company plans new manufacturing facility and additional design capabilities to serve customers in China May 31st, 2016

Fast, stretchy circuits could yield new wave of wearable electronics May 30th, 2016

Gigantic ultrafast spin currents: Scientists from TU Wien (Vienna) are proposing a new method for creating extremely strong spin currents. They are essential for spintronics, a technology that could replace today's electronics May 25th, 2016

Diamonds closer to becoming ideal semiconductors: Researchers find new method for doping single crystals of diamond May 25th, 2016

Discoveries

Fast, stretchy circuits could yield new wave of wearable electronics May 30th, 2016

Automating DNA origami opens door to many new uses: Like 3-D printing did for larger objects, method makes it easy to build nanoparticles out of DNA May 30th, 2016

Simple attraction: Researchers control protein release from nanoparticles without encapsulation: U of T Engineering discovery stands to improve reliability and fabrication process for treatments to conditions such as spinal cord damage and stroke May 28th, 2016

Scientists illuminate a hidden regulator in gene transcription: New super-resolution technique visualizes important role of short-lived enzyme clusters May 27th, 2016

Announcements

GLOBALFOUNDRIES to Expand Presence in China with 300mm Fab in Chongqing: Company plans new manufacturing facility and additional design capabilities to serve customers in China May 31st, 2016

Nanobiotix establishes promising preclinical proof-of-concept in Immuno Oncology May 31st, 2016

UK NANOSAFETY GROUP publishes 2nd Edition of guidance to support safe working with nanomaterials May 30th, 2016

Fast, stretchy circuits could yield new wave of wearable electronics May 30th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







Car Brands
Buy website traffic