The effect of ultra-violet light curing on the molecular structure and fracture properties of an ultra low-k material
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As the gate density increases in microelectronic devices, the interconnect delay or RC response also increases and has become the limiting delay to faster devices. In order to decrease the RC time delay, a new metallization scheme has been chosen by the semiconductor industry. Copper has replaced aluminum as the metal lines and new low-k dielectric materials are being developed to replace silicon dioxide. A promising low-k material is porous organosilicate glass or p-OSG. The p-OSG film is a hybrid material where the silicon dioxide backbone is terminated with methyl or hydrogen, reducing the dielectric constant and creating mechanically weak films that are prone to fracture. A few methods of improving the mechanical properties of p-OSG films have been attempted-- exposing the film to hydrogen plasma, electron beam curing, and ultra-violet light curing. Hydrogen plasma and electron-beam curing suffer from a lack of specificity and can cause charging damage to the gates. Therefore, ultra-violet light curing (UV curing) is preferable. The effect of UV curing on an ultra-low-k, k~2.5, p-OSG film is studied in this dissertation. Changes in the molecular structure were measured with Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy and X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy. The evolution of the molecular structure with UV curing was correlated with material and fracture properties. The material properties were film shrinkage, densification, and an increase in dielectric constant. From the changes in molecular structure and material properties, a set of condensation reactions with UV light are predicted. The connectivity of the film increases with the condensation reactions and, therefore, the fracture toughness should also increase. The effect of UV curing on the critical and sub-critical fracture toughness was also studied. The critical fracture toughness was measured at four different mode-mixes-- zero, 15°, 32°, and 42°. It was found that the critical fracture toughness increases with UV exposure for all mode mixes. The sub-critical fracture toughness was measured in Mode I and found to be insensitive to UV cure. A simple reaction rate model is used to explain the difference in critical and sub-critical fracture toughness.