Investigation of the DSMC approach for ion/neutral species in modeling low pressure plasma reactor

Hao Deng, Z. Li, D. Levin, L. Gochberg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Low pressure plasma reactors are important tools for ionized metal physical vapor deposition (IMPVD), a semiconductor plasma processing technology that is increasingly being applied to deposit Cu seed layers on semiconductor surfaces of trenches and vias with the high aspect ratio (e.g., > 5:1). A large fraction of ionized atoms produced by the IMPVD process leads to an anisotropic deposition flux towards the substrate, a feature which is critical for attaining a void-free and uniform fill. Modeling such devices is challenging due to their high plasma density, reactive environment, but low gas pressure. A modular code developed by the Computational Optical and Discharge Physics Group, the Hybrid Plasma Equipment Model (HPEM), has been successfully applied to the numerical investigations of IMPVD by modeling a hollow cathode magnetron (HCM) device. However, as the development of semiconductor devices progresses towards the lower pressure regime (e.g., < 5 mTorr), the breakdown of the continuum assumption limits the application of the fluid model in HPEM and suggests the incorporation of the kinetic method, such as the direct simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC), in the plasma simulation. The DSMC method, which solves the Boltzmann equation of transport, has been successfully applied in modeling micro-fluidic flows in MEMS devices with low Reynolds numbers, a feature shared with the HCM. Modeling of the basic physical and chemical processes for ion/neutral species in plasma have been developed and implemented in DSMC, which include ion particle motion due to the Lorentz force, electron impact reactions, charge exchange reactions, and charge recombination at the surface. The heating of neutrals due to collisions with ions and the heating of ions due to the electrostatic field will be shown to be captured by the DSMC simulations. In this work, DSMC calculations were coupled with the modules from HPEM so that the plasma can be self-consistently solved. Differences in the Ar results, the dominant species in the reactor, produced by the DSMC-HPEM coupled simulation will be shown in comparison with the original HPEM results. The effects of the DSMC calculations for ion/neutral species on HPEM plasma simulation will be further analyzed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication27th International Symposium on Rarefied Gas Dynamics - 2010, RGD27
Number of pages6
EditionPART 1
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes
Event27th International Symposium on Rarefied Gas Dynamics, RGD27 - Pacific Grove, CA, United States
Duration: Jul 10 2011Jul 15 2011

Publication series

NameAIP Conference Proceedings
NumberPART 1
ISSN (Print)0094-243X
ISSN (Electronic)1551-7616


Other27th International Symposium on Rarefied Gas Dynamics, RGD27
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPacific Grove, CA


  • DSMC
  • Kinetic method
  • Low pressure plasma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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