On the physical and chemical details of alumina atomic layer deposition: A combined experimental and numerical approach

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© 2015 American Vacuum Society. Alumina thin film is typically studied as a model atomic layer deposition (ALD) process due to its high dielectric constant, high thermal stability, and good adhesion on various wafer surfaces. Despite extensive applications of alumina ALD in microelectronics industries, details on the physical and chemical processes are not yet well understood. ALD experiments are not able to shed adequate light on the detailed information regarding the transient ALD process. Most of current numerical approaches lack detailed surface reaction mechanisms, and their results are not well correlated with experimental observations. In this paper, the authors present a combined experimental and numerical study on the details of flow and surface reactions in alumina ALD using trimethylaluminum and water as precursors. Results obtained from experiments and simulations are compared and correlated. By experiments, growth rate on five samples under different deposition conditions is characterized. The deposition rate from numerical simulation agrees well with the experimental results. Details of precursor distributions in a full cycle of ALD are studied numerically to bridge between experimental observations and simulations. The 3D transient numerical model adopts surface reaction kinetics and mechanisms based on atomic-level studies to investigate the surface deposition process. Surface deposition is shown as a strictly self-limited process in our numerical studies. ALD is a complex strong-coupled fluid, thermal and chemical process, which is not only heavily dependent on the chemical kinetics and surface conditions but also on the flow and material distributions.

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Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology A: Vacuum, Surfaces and Films

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