MadSci Network: Engineering

Re: Why would silicon ions be implanted into silicon wafers in semicon fabricat

Date: Wed Apr 29 01:20:26 1998
Posted By: Don Pettibone, Other (pls. specify below), Ph.D. in Applied Physics, Quadlux Inc.
Area of science: Engineering
ID: 889336774.Eg

I liked your question.  I worked for a company that made RTP (Rapid Thermal 
Processing) equipment that can be used for implant annealing, but didn’t 
know about implanting silicon with silicon.  However, one of my friends who 
is still in the business helped me out with this question.  I can’t get 
into details about ion implantation here, but the book I looked at was S.M. 
Sze’s “VLSI Technology,” 2nd edition, McGraw-Hill.

First a little background.  The main purpose of ion implantation is to be 
able to get precise spatial control of dopant profiles that you want to 
introduce into your crystal, usually silicon.  [Incidentally, it is not 
unusual to implant silicon in GaAs, which is probably the second (though a 
very distant second to silicon) most common crystal used in semiconductor 
devices.]  The alternative to ion implantation is a surface predeposition 
using, typically, a doped glass followed by a high temperature step where 
diffusion drives the dopants in a ways.  The trouble with diffusion is that 
you don’t get sharply defined, well localized dopant profiles.  This wasn’t 
so bad in the early days of integrated circuits, but became a major 
limitation as devices shrank in size.  [About 25 years ago the minimum 
device feature size was 10 microns; now it is of the order of .2 microns.]  
Ion implantation fires atoms that have been ionized and accelerated with 
electric fields right into the wafers.  A mask is applied to the wafer so 
you only implant in areas that you desire to implant in.  Ion implantation 
gives sharp dopant profiles except for a nasty effect known as channeling.  
The dopant depth profile starts to cut off fairly sharply but then it hangs 
in there and starts dropping off at a much slower rate.  This is due to the 
fact that along certain directions, the crystal appears to have long 
corridors, or channels, that ions can move down without much scattering.  
The analogy that is usually given to explain this is that when you drive by 
an orchard you can look in certain directions and see a long ways due to 
the regular spacing of the trees.  A chunk of single crystal silicon is the 
ultimate “orchard” of neatly arranged silicon atoms.  One standard trick is 
to implant at an angle of 7 degrees to the normal.  However, while this 
helps, it is still possible for ions to get scattered into directions that 
“see” these corridors, and so you still get channeling.  By the way, 
typical ion implant energies are of the order of 30 to 100 keV (thousand 
electron Volts), and implant depths are of the order of .1 to .3 microns.  
These numbers are just typical numbers.  Some implant work has been done 
around an MeV (million electron Volts), and some is done at lower energies.

Here is where one of the uses of silicon ion implantation comes in.  Before 
one of the major ion implants, such as the source/drain implant, an implant 
of silicon is done which leaves some silicon atoms in interstitial sites, 
basically plugging up the channels.  When a subsequent implant is done, the 
channels are not open, so the dopant profile cuts off sharply, as desired.  
Pretty clever, huh?

Most of the atoms that are implanted do not find their way into a lattice 
position (since they are all taken in a perfect crystal), but wind up 
wedged in between atoms in the lattice at so called interstitial sites.  It 
is true that some of the original silicon implant goes pretty deep, but 
that is not a problem.  At the low temperatures where the ion implant is 
done, all the atoms in the lattice are nearly frozen in place, making it 
difficult for the atoms to play the musical chairs game necessary to find a 
place in the lattice.  At some point in the process, an annealing step is 
done where the wafer is heated up to a high temperature long enough for the 
atoms to find their way into the lowest energy positions, which is back 
into the regularly spaced lattice sites.  This occurs because when the 
wafer is heated up, all the atoms have more kinetic and vibrational energy, 
making it easier for them to hop around in the crystal.  Therefore, after 
annealing, most of the silicon and the dopants wind up being incorporated 
into the lattice.  [By the way, this annealing step is crucial.  Without it 
the mobility of electrons and holes in the lattice is greatly reduced.  I 
don’t know if this is due to scattering (which is what it sounds like) or 
recombination (where an electron and hole recombine, knocking out two 
carriers) or both.]  

Another application of silicon ion implantation into a silicon IC is when 
it is used in titanium silicide formation.  Titanium silicide is a 
reasonably good electrical conductor that  makes connections which serve as 
the wires that connect the various circuit components.  Titanium silicide 
is formed when titanium is deposited on polysilicon and then heated up.  
The silicon atoms in the polysilicon diffuse up into the titanium, forming 
a compound of silicon and titanium.  Titanium silicide is able to take 
subsequent high temperature processing steps without melting, in comparison 
to aluminum.  Before the high temperature siliciding step is carried out 
and after the titanium has been deposited, a silicon ion implant is carried 
out.  Now, it is thought that if there is any barrier between the 
polysilicon and the titanium, such as a thin layer of silicon dioxide, then 
the diffusion of the silicon up into the titanium will be hampered, forming 
a patchy, incomplete silicide.  The silicon ion implant actually goes 
through the titanium and is thought to partially break up any barrier at 
the interface between the titanium and the polysilicon.  

Well, that’s it.  Not being an expert in IC processing, I probably have 
made some mistakes here.  Sze’s book is a classic (which people actually 
read!), and should be consulted for more information and a good collection 
of references.  I hope that answers your question.

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