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Handbook of Thin-Film_08

Handbook of Thin-Film_08

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Published by: dhook_mmm on May 01, 2011
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Sputtering and sputter deposition are widely used techniques for theerosion of surfaces and the deposition of films. Sputtering, also known assputter etching, is used for patterning semiconductor wafers, for cleaningsurfaces, for micromachining, depth profiling, and a number of applicationswhich require careful, microscopic erosion of a surface. Sputter depositionis used for film deposition on semiconductor wafers, on magnetic mediaand head surfaces, for coating tools and cutting surfaces for wear resis-tance (this includes, by the way, such tools as shaving razors), for reflec-tive coatings on window glass, for coating the insides of plastic bags andthe surfaces of automobile parts, and a number of other wide rangingapplications.Sputtering is usually practiced by means of plasmas which generatecharged particles which can be accelerated towards a surface electrically.Sputtering is simply the process of erosion of that surface by the energeticparticles, a sort of atomistic sandblasting. Sputter deposition is nothingmore than the accumulation of these atoms which are blasted off thesurface onto a nearby sample. For the most part, this chapter deals withsputtering and sputter deposition with a slant towards semiconductorprocessing. However, the discussion is wide enough that other areas areintroduced from time to time as needed.
8Sputtering and SputterDeposition
Stephen Rossnagel 
Thin-Film Deposition Processes and Technologies
Sputtering occurs whenever any particle strikes a surface withenough energy to dislodge an atom from the surface. The sputter yield is just the ratio of the number of emitted particles per incident particle:Eq. (1)
= (# of emitted particles/# of incident particles)Sputtering can occur for virtually any incident species, includingatoms, ions, electrons, photons, and neutrons as well as molecules andmolecular ions. For virtually all practical cases, sputtering almost alwaysutilizes ion bombardment, either with inert gas ions such as Ar
and Kr
, orsmall molecular ions such as N
, O
, and so on. The yield for bombard-ment of a surface with an ion or an atom of the same energy will bevirtually identical; physical sputtering relies on the transfer of physicalmomentum and kinetic energy from the incident particle to the surfaceatoms, and this is independent of the particle
s charge.The sputtering process is shown generically in Fig. 1. The incidentparticle impacts the surface or near-surface atoms of the solid withsufficient energy to break bonds and dislodge atoms. If, during this process,one or more atoms are removed from the solid, they are considered to besputtered atoms.
Figure 1.
Schematic of physical sputtering process.
Chapter 8: Sputtering and Sputter Deposition
3212.1Energy Dependence of Sputtering
Physical sputtering can be described in four general energy ranges,from energies at near the binding energy to many MeV.
a. Very low energies.
At incident ion energies of a few eV or so up to30
50 eV, there is very little sputtering. Early work (1960
suggestedthe presence of a sputter threshold in this energy regime below which nosputtering occurred. This has been found to be slightly misleading, and it isnow generally thought that the minimum ion energy for sputtering is thebinding energy of the most-weakly-bound surface atomThe yields in this energy range are typically below 10
at 30
40 eVion energies, and fall rapidly at lower ion energies to the 10
level andbelow. While this may seem insignificantly small, consider a high densityplasma source such as an ECR source (ECR stands for Electron CyclotronResonance). With 1 kW of microwave energy transmitted into the plasma,the effective ion production rate is on the order of 10
per second, or about15 amperes. If each of these ions reaches the wall with an energy of 10 eV(typical for this type of system), then the erosion rate at a yield of 10
is stillabout 10
atoms/sec. In a few minutes, this will deposit a monolayer ortwo on all surfaces within the tool, including any windows or insulators.Within an hour, this very tiny sputter yield has the potential to make opaque,conductive films throughout the chamber (including the quartz windowsthrough which the microwave power enters), which could make operationof the system difficult. Very low energy sputter yield measurements arevery difficult to make accurately and there is almost no mention of them inthe literature.
b. Knock-on energy regime.
At incident energies of 40 to perhaps1000 eV, the incoming particle has more than enough energy to dislodgetens to hundreds of atoms. The collision sequence is erratic, though, anddepends on exactly where the incident particle hits. After this first collision,the incident particle and the impacted one move on into the materialcausing more and more collisions. The nature of these collisions is difficultto follow, though, because it depends on exactly where the first particlehits. Eventually, though, these knock-on collisions may result in an atom ator near the surface being ejected from the solid.Knock-on sputtering has been modeled by computer calculationswhich follow the trajectories of a large number of incident particles.
Theyield for each individual collision sequence can vary widely, from 0 toperhaps 10 or more. The average result should then be characteristic of the

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