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The role of plasma-surface interactions in process chemistry: mechanistic studies of a-CNx deposition and SF6/O2 etching of silicon




Stillahn, Joshua Michael, author
Fisher, Ellen R., advisor
Bernstein, E. R. (Elliot R.), committee member
Dandy, David S., committee member
Levinger, Nancy E., committee member
Prieto, Amy L. (Amy Lucia), committee member

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The molecular level chemistry of a-CNx deposition in plasma discharges was studied with emphasis on the use of CH3CN and BrCN as single source precursors for these films. Characterization of the global deposition behavior in these systems indicates that the resulting films are relatively smooth and contain significant levels of N-content, with N/C > 0.3. Notably, films obtained from BrCN plasmas are observed to delaminate upon their exposure to atmosphere, and preliminary investigation of this behavior is presented. Detailed chemical investigation of the deposition process focuses primarily on the contributions of CN radicals, which were characterized from their origin in the gas phase to their reaction at the a-CNx film surface. Laser-induced fluorescence studies suggest that CN is formed through electron impact dissociation of the precursor species and that this breakdown process produces CN with high internal energies, having rotational and vibrational temperatures on the order of 1000 K and 5000 K, respectively. Measurement of CN surface reactivity coefficients in CH3CN plasmas show that CN reacts with a probability of ~94%, irrespective of the deposition conditions; this information, combined with gas phase and film characterization data, leads to the conclusion that CN internal energies exert a strong influence on their surface reactivity and that these surface reactions favor their incorporation into the a-CNx film. Moreover, this correlation is shown to hold for several other plasma radicals studied in our lab, suggesting the potential for developing a general model for predicting surface interactions of activated gas phase species. This dissertation also presents results from studies of SF6/O2 etching of Si. Addition of O2 to the feed gas leads to the generation of SO2, among other species, and gas phase characterization data suggest that SO2 may act as a sink for atomic S, preventing the reformation of SOxFy (y > 0) and thus promoting generation of atomic F. The surface scatter coefficient of SO2 was also measured in an effort to understand its role in the formation of gas phase species. These measurements suggest that SO2 does not undergo surface reaction during etching and therefore does not contribute to the generation of gaseous SOxFy species.


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plasma discharge
Plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition
dry etching
Plasma etching
chemical vapor deposition
Plasma dynamics
carbon nitride


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