Silicon dioxide

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Silicon dioxide, SiO2, is a common dielectric material used in semi-conductor processing. It can be both grown on silicon substrates using wet or dry techniques and deposited on a wide variety of substrates using techniques such as LPCVD, PECVD, Sputtering, and Evaporation. It is also easily etched. Common names include silicon oxide, silicon dioxide, silica, SiO2, HTO (high temperature oxide), LTO (low temperature oxide).

The growth and deposition technique used will affect the quality and dielectric strength of the silicon dioxide. Generally the higher the process temperature the higher the quality. HF etch rate also gives a window into the film quality with higher quality films etching between 900-1000Å/min and lower quality films etching significantly faster.

Processing Equipment

Deposition/Growth Equipment

Etching Equipment

Characterization Equipment


Common uses of silicon dixode include:

  • Dielectric
  • Sacrificial Layer
  • Structural Layer
  • Hard Mask for RIE etching
  • Thermal or LPCVD silicon dixoide can be used as a mask for KOH etching


Deposition/Growth Processes

At the LNF there are multiple ways of growing or depositing an Silicon Dioxide film. The processes are listed from highest to lowest temperature. This generally relates to film quality.

Etch Processes

Silicon dioxide is usually patterned using an etching process. The LNF has wet and dry etching capabilities.

  • RIE Etch*
    • Tool material restriction must be considered when selecting an RIE tool as it will impact what tools you can use for future process steps.
    • RIE will give straighter sidewalls and less undercut than wet etching.

Characterization Processes

  • Optical
    • The optical properties of the tool will vary depending on the deposition method used.
    • The optical techniques can be used to find the thickness of the film.
    • Elipsomentry can be used to find the n and k values.
  • Stress
    • The Flexus 2320-S can be used to find the stress of the film.
    • Curvature of the wafer must be measured before deposition.
    • If film is deposited on both sides it must be removed from the backside before the second measurement is taken.