Etching is used in microfabrication to chemically remove layers from the surface of a wafer during manufacturing.

Etching is a critically important process module, and every wafer undergoes many etching steps before it is complete. For many etch steps, part of the wafer is protected from the etchant by a "masking" material which resists etching. In some cases, the masking material is a photoresist which has been patterned using photolithography. Other situations require a more durable mask, such as silicon nitride. If the etch is intended to make a cavity in a material, the depth of the cavity may be controlled approximately using the etching time and the known etch rate. More often, though, etching must entirely remove the top layer of a multilayer structure, without damaging the underlying or masking layers. The etching system's ability to do this depends on the ratio of etch rates in the two materials (selectivity). Some etches undercut the masking layer and form cavities with sloping sidewalls. The distance of undercutting is called bias. Etchants with large bias are called isotropic, because they erode the substrate equally in all directions. Modern processes greatly prefer anisotropic etches, because they produce sharp, well-controlled features. Yellow: layer to be removed; blue: layer to remain Selectivity 1. A poorly selective etch removes the top layer, but also attacks the underlying material. 2. A highly selective etch leaves the underlying material unharmed.

Red: masking layer; yellow: layer to be removed Isotropy 1. A perfectly isotropic etch produces round sidewalls. 2. A perfectly anisotropic etch produces vertical sidewalls.

The two fundamental types of etchants are liquid-phase ("wet") and plasma-phase ("dry"). Each of these exists in several varieties. Wet etching The first etching processes used liquid-phase ("wet") etchants. The wafer can be immersed in a bath of etchant, which must be agitated to achieve good process control. For instance,buffered hydrofluoric acid (BHF) is used commonly to etch silicon dioxide over a silicon substrate. Different specialised etchants can be used to characterise the surface etched. Wet etchants are usually isotropic, which leads to large bias when etching thick films. They also require the disposal of large amounts of toxic waste. For these reasons, they are seldom used in state -of-the-art processes. However, the photographic developer used for photoresist resembles wet etching.

i.e. In single-crystal materials (e. with a 37X selectivity between <100> and <111> planes in silicon. the pit when etched to completion displays a pyramidal shape. and the green material is silicon. where wafers are normally very much thinner after wafer backgrinding. δ. Tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH) presents a safer alternative than EDP. Use of these etchants on wafers that already contain CMOS integrated circuitsrequires protecting the circuitry. silicon wafers). and the sides are <111> planes. and also displays high selectivity between lightly doped and heavily boron-doped (p-type) silicon. potassium hydroxide (KOH) displays an etch rate selectivity 400 times higher in <100> crystal directions than in <111> directions. and EDP is highly corrosive and carcinogenic. The etch chemistry is dispensed on the top side when in the machine and the bottom side is not affected. Etching a (100) silicon surface through a rectangular hole in a masking material. Some wet etchants etch crystalline materials at very different rates depending upon which crystal face is exposed. and very sensitive to thermal or mechanical stress. Etching a thin layer of even a few micrometres will remove microcracks produced during backgrinding resulting in the wafer having dramatically increased strength and flexibility without breaking. all of them hot aqueous caustics. This etch method is particularly effective just before "backend" processing (BEOL). pure nitrogen) to cushion and protect one side of the wafer while etchant is applied to the other side. It can be done to either the front side or back side. KOH may introduce mobilepotassium ions into silicon dioxide.g. for example a hole in a layer of silicon nitride. single wafer machines use the Bernoulli principle to employ a gas (usually. this effect can allow very high anisotropy. under an edge of the masking material is given by: . The <111>-oriented sidewalls have an angle to the surface of the wafer of: If the etching is continued "to completion". If the original rectangle was a perfect square. EDP (an aqueous solution of ethylene diamineand pyrocatechol). The undercut. the pit becomes a trench with a V-shaped cross section. For instance. so care is required in their use. displays a <100>/<111> selectivity of 17X.As an alternative to immersion. does not etch silicon dioxide as KOH does. Anisotropic wet etching (Orientation dependent etching) An anisotropic wet etch on a silicon wafer creates a cavity with a trapezoidal cross-section. The bottom of the cavity is a <100> plane (see Miller indices). The blue material is an etch mask. Several anisotropic wet etchants are available for silicon. as shown in the figure. until the flat bottom disappears. for example using the Protek films recently introduced by Brewer Science. creates a pit with flat sloping <111>-oriented sidewalls and a flat <100>-oriented bottom.

A plasma containing oxygen is used to oxidize ("ash") photoresist and facilitate its removal. It bombards the wafer with energetic ions of noble gases.1 and 5 Torr. . narrow features. or can be anisotropic.) The plasma produces energetic free radicals. The source gas for the plasma usually contains small molecules rich in chlorine or fluorine.e. equals approximately 133. carbon tetrachloride (CCl4 ) etches silicon andaluminium. which approach the wafer approximately from one direction. Simplified illustration of dry etching using positive photoresist during a photolithography process in semiconductor microfabrication. Since neutral particles attack the wafer from all angles. neutrally charged. where Rxxx is the etch rate in the <xxx> direction. exhibiting a lateral undercut rate on a patterned surface approximately the same as its downward etch rate. D is the etch depth and S is the anisotropy of the material and etchant. or sputter etching. (This unit of pressure. Plasma etching Modern VLSI processes avoid wet etching. Ion milling. Plasma etchers can operate in several modes by adjusting the parameters of the plasma. T is the etch time. Plasma etching can be isotropic. Reactive-ion etching (RIE) operates under conditions intermediate between sputter and plasma etching (between 10-3 and 10-1 Torr). i. and trifluoromethane etches silicon dioxide and silicon nitride.. Note: Not to scale. and use plasma etching instead. which knock atoms from the substrate by transferring momentum. it tends to display poor selectivity. uses lower pressures. For instance... this process is highly anisotropic. exhibiting a smaller lateral undercut rate than its downward etch rate. Such anisotropy is maximized in deep reactive ion etching. Because the etching is performed by ions. commonly used in vacuum engineering. The use of the term anisotropy for plasma etching should not be conflated with the use of the same term when referring to orientation-dependent etching.e. often as low as 10-4 Torr (10 mPa). Deep reactive-ion etching (DRIE) modifies the RIE technique to produce deep. i. this process is isotropic. Ordinary plasma etching operates between 0. On the other hand.3 pascals. that react at the surface of the wafer. often Ar+.

 Deposition of the coating fluid onto the wafer or substrate This can be done by using a nozzle and pouring the coating solution or by spraying it onto the surface. Spin coating is widely used in microfabrication. until the desired thickness of the film is achieved.    Acceleration of the substrate up to its final. and UV LIGA. where it can be used to create thin films with thicknesses below 10 nm. to deposit layers of photoresist about 1 micrometre thick. Rotation is continued while the fluid spins off the edges of the substrate. which uses X-rays produced by a synchrotron to create high-aspect ratio structures. the thinner the film. In short. X-Ray LIGA. an excess amount of a solution is placed on the substrate. Stages of spin coating Although different engineers count things differently. A substantial excess of coating solution is usually applied compared to the amount that is required. this method is often employed in the fabrication of transparent Titanium dioxide thin films on quartz or glass substrates [1]. rotation speed Spinning of the substrate at a constant rate. The applied solvent is usually volatile.Spin coating is a procedure used to apply uniform thin films to flat substrates. the higher the angular speed of spinning. there are four distinct stages to the spin coating process. and simultaneously evaporates. a more accessible method which uses ultraviolet light to create structures with relatively low aspect ratios . desired. or simply spinner. fluid viscous forces dominate the fluid thinning behavior Spinning of the substrate at a constant rate. solvent evaporation dominates the coating thinning behavior LIGA is a German acronym for Lithographie. It is used intensively inphotolithography. So. Photoresist is typically spun at 20 to 80 revolutions per second for 30 to 60 seconds. The thickness of the film also depends on the concentration of the solution and the solvent. Electroplating. Owing to the low values of thickness which can be achieved using spin coating methods. A machine used for spin coating is called a spin coater. Abformung (Lithography. and Molding) that describes a fabrication technology used to create high-aspect-ratio microstructures. such thin film coatings may exhibit self cleaning and self sterilizing properties. Galvanoformung. Overview There are two main LIGA-fabrication technologies. which is then rotated at high speed in order to spread the fluid by centrifugal force.

The technique enables microstructures with high aspect ratios and high precision to be fabricated in a variety of materials (metals. The resist is chemically stripped away to produce a metallic mold insert. The LIGA technique's unique value is the precision obtained by the use of deep X-ray lithography (DXRL).The notable characteristics of X-ray LIGA-fabricated structures include:      high aspect ratios on the order of 100:1 parallel side walls with a flank angle on the order of 89. The mold insert can be used to produce parts in polymers or ceramics through injection molding. which can be filled by the electrodeposition of metal. an X-ray sensitive polymer photoresist. . plastics.95° smooth side walls with Ra = 10 nm. In the process. bonded to an electrically conductive substrate. suitable for optical mirrors structural heights from tens of micrometers to several millimeters structural details on the order of micrometers over distances of centimeters X-Ray LIGA LIGA was one of the first major techniques to allow on-demand manufacturing of high-aspect-ratio structures (structures that are much taller than wide) with lateral precision below one micrometer. Many of its practitioners and users are associated with or are located close to synchrotron facilities. is exposed to parallel beams of high-energy X-rays from a synchrotron radiation source through a mask partly covered with a strong X-ray absorbing material. Chemical removal of exposed (or unexposed) photoresist results in a three-dimensional structure. and ceramics). typically PMMA.

However. to expose a polymer photoresist. These reductions in complexity make UV LIGA much cheaper and more accessible than its X-ray counterpart. a simple chromium mask can be substituted for the technically sophisticated X-ray mask. typically SU-8. Because heating and transmittance are not an issue in optical masks. like a mercury lamp. UV LIGA is not as effective at producing precision molds and is thus used when cost must be kept low and very high aspect ratios are not required. .UV LIGA UV LIGA utilizes an inexpensive ultraviolet light source.

or antimony (Group Va) for n-type • Dopant deposited on surface • Wafer raised to temperature so high that dopant diffuses into wafer 20 of 42 Method 1: Ion Implantation • Ion implantation by particle accelerator • Photoresist can mask locations where no deposition is wanted • Projected range Rp for photoresist is . Ion implantation • High-energy ion beam implants dopant ions • Material is then annealed to repair damage done by ion beam 2. Diffusion/Drive. g. Be. phosphorus. Ta) are absorbers • (X-ray: 10-3 nm < _ < 10 nm) Two Methods for Doping • Pure Si is an intrinsic Group-IV semiconductor • Add Boron (Group III) for p-type (also etch stop) • Add arsenic. diffusion of photoelectrons lowers resolution • High resolution • Fabricate 400 μm structures with 0. W. Au. Si) are transparent • High-Z materials (e.2 μm accuracy • Large depth of focus • Expensive • Special mask materials • low-Z materials (e. g.Synchrotron Radiation • Wavelength is 0. C.6 nm • At shorter wavelengths.2 to 0.



However. the material is considered to be a positive resist (shown in figure 2a). If the resist is placed in a developer solution after selective exposure to a light source. Figure 1: Transfer of a pattern to a photosensitive material. If the exposed material is resilient to the developer and the unexposed region is etched away. This discussion will focus on optical lithography.machinists. a photosensitive layer is often used as a temporary mask when etching an underlying layer. the photosensitive material used is typically a photoresist (also called resist.Lithography in the MEMS context is typically the transfer of a pattern to a photosensitive material by selective exposure to a radiation source such as light. and the material deposited on the resist is "lifted off". and do not encompass the spectrum of materials properties of interest to micro. The reason for this is that resist is . The deposition template (lift-off) approach for transferring a pattern from resist to another layer is less common than using the resist pattern as an etch mask. When resist is exposed to a radiation source of a specific a wavelength. the chemical resistance of the resist to developer solution changes. If the exposed material is etched away by the developer and the unexposed region is resilient. so that the pattern may be transferred to the underlying layer (shown in figure 3a). Photosensitive compounds are primarily organic. which is simply lithography using a radiation source with wavelength(s) in the visible spectrum. it is considered to be a negative resist (shown in figure 2b). as the technique is capable of producing fine features in an economic fashion. it will etch away one of the two regions (exposed or unexposed). other photosensitive polymers are also used).g. If we selectively expose a photosensitive material to radiation (e. The resist is subsequently etched away. Lithography is the principal mechanism for pattern definition in micromachining. by masking some of the radiation) the pattern of the radiation on the material is transferred to the material exposed. as the properties of the exposed and unexposed regions differs (as shown in figure 1). In lithography for micromachining. Photoresist may also be used as a template for patterning material deposited after lithography (shown in figure 3b). A photosensitive material is a material that experiences a change in its physical properties when exposed to a radiation source.

usually because it cannot withstand high temperatures and may act as a source of contamination. Figure 2: a) Pattern definition in positive resist. .incompatible with most MEMS deposition processes. b) Pattern definition in negative resist.

It was developed for manufacturing integrated circuits.[1] ("exposing" the resist) and of selectively removing either exposed or non-exposed regions of the resist ("developing").Figure 3: a) Pattern transfer from patterned photoresist to underlying layer by etching b) Pattern transfer from patterned photoresist to overlying layer by lift-off Once the pattern has been transferred to another layer. often by etching. The key limitation of electron beam lithography is throughput. The primary advantage of electron beam lithography is that it is one of the ways to beat the diffraction limit of light and make features in thenanometer regime. the resist is usually stripped.making used in photolithography. Electron beam lithography (often abbreviated as e-beam lithography) is the practice of emitting a beam of electrons in a patterned fashion across a surface covered with a film (called the resist). This is often necessary as the resist may be incompatible with further micromachining steps. low. This form of maskless lithography has found wide usage in photomask. and research & development. and is also used for creatingnanotechnology architectures. which may hamper further lithography steps. the very long time it takes to expose an entire silicon wafer or glass substrate. as with photolithography.e. the turn-around time for reworking or re-design is lengthened unnecessarily if the pattern is not being c hanged the second time. The purpose. . Also. is to create very small structures in the resist that can subsequently be transferred to the substrate material.volume production of semiconductor components. It also makes the topography more dramatic. i.. A long exposure time leaves the user vulnerable to beam drift or instability which may occur during the exposure.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful