As semiconductor feature sizes continue to decrease, the phenomena of line-edge roughness (LER) becomes more disruptive in chip manufacturing. While many efforts are underway to decrease LER from the photoresist, post-developed smoothing techniques may be required to continue shrinking chip features economically. This paper reports on one such method employing the use of a broad ion beam at grazing incidence along the features. This method smooths relatively long spatial-length LER, a potential advantage over other smoothing techniques that focus on just molecular-scale LER. LER reduction numbers using Ne and Ar beams are reported at both short and long spatial wavelengths. Variables include beam energy, length of time and angular dependence. LER measurements are taken using the Hitachi image-analysis software on top-down analytical scanning electron microscope (SEM) measurements. Line-profile data are taken from cross-sectional SEM photographs. Tests have achieved a reduction in LER from 9.8 ± 0.67 nm to 5.5 ± 0.86 nm for 45 nm critical dimensions using an Ar beam at 500 eV for 6 s at an 85° angle of incidence. A reduction from 10.1 ± 1.07 nm to 6 ± 1.02 nm was shown using an Ar beam at 1000 eV for 4 s at a 60° angle of incidence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering