Riding an electron wave into the future of microchip fabrication

Nov 13, 2013
Riding an electron wave into the future of microchip fabrication
A plasma wave can give rise to a population of suprathermal electrons. Credit: I.D. Kaganovich and D. Sydorenko

Advanced plasma-based etching is a key enabler of Moore's Law that observes that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles nearly every two years. It is the plasma's ability to reproduce fine patterns on silicon that makes this scaling possible and has made plasma sources ubiquitous in microchip manufacturing.

A groundbreaking fabrication technique, based on what is called a DC-augmented capacitively coupled plasma source, affords chip makers unprecedented control of the plasma. This process enables DC-electrode borne electron beams to reach and harden the surface of the mask that is used for printing the microchip circuits. More importantly, the presence of the beam creates a population of suprathermal electrons in the plasma, producing the plasma chemistry that is necessary to protect the mask. The energy of these electrons is greater than simple thermal heating could produce—hence the name "suprathermal." But how the beam electrons transform themselves into this suprathermal population has been a puzzle.

Now a computer simulation developed at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton

Plasma Physics Laboratory in collaboration with the University of Alberta has shed light on this transformation. The simulation reveals that the initial DC-electrode borne beam generates intense plasma waves that move through the plasma like ripples in water. And it is this beam-plasma instability that leads to the generation of the crucial suprathermal electrons.

Understanding the role these instabilities play provides a first step toward still-greater control of the plasma-surface interactions, and toward further increasing the number of on . Insights from both numerical simulations and experiments related to beam-plasma instabilities thus portend the development of new sources and the increasingly advanced chips that they fabricate.

Explore further: First direct evidence that a mysterious phase of matter competes with high-temperature superconductivity

More information: Abstract:
TO6.00005 Collisionless acceleration of plasma electrons by intense electron beam
Session: Low Temperature Plasma Science, Engineering and Technology
9:30 AM–11:06 AM, Thursday, November 14, 2013

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hydrogen beam injector guides plasma physics research

Sep 27, 2012

(Phys.org)—The Madison Symmetric Torus, a leading piece of equipment in plasma physics research for more than 20 years, recently gained a new capability with the installation of a neutral beam injector.

Bring a 50,000-degree plasma into your living room

Nov 13, 2013

With the rise of online open course platforms such as Khan Academy, MIT OpenCourseWare and iTunes U, it has never been easier to teach yourself everything from American history to semiconductor manufacturing. ...

Putting a new spin on tokamak disruptions

Nov 13, 2013

In the quest for fusion energy on earth, researchers use magnetic fields to insulate hot plasma from the walls of the chamber to maintain the reaction and prevent damage to interior surfaces. In the tokamak, ...

Plasma etching pushes the limits of a shrinking world

Nov 10, 2011

Plasma etching (using an ionized gas to carve tiny components on silicon wafers) has long enabled the perpetuation of Moore's Law -- the observation that the number of transistors that can be squeezed into an integrated circuit ...

Recommended for you

Acoustic tweezers manipulate cell-to-cell contact

5 minutes ago

Sound waves can precisely position groups of cells for study without the danger of changing or damaging the cells, according to a team of Penn State researchers who are using surface acoustic waves to manipulate ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.