Monday, July 13, 2015

Lam Research Releases High-Productivity VECTOR(R) ALD Oxide Deposition System

Lam Research Corp a major global supplier of innovative wafer fabrication equipment and services to the semiconductor industry, today announced it has released its high-productivity VECTOR® ALD Oxide system on the Extreme platform. The new product uses atomic layer deposition (ALD) to create highly conformal dielectric films with an emphasis on advanced patterning, in particular spacer-based multiple patterning. One key challenge is managing thickness variability of the self-aligned spacers that define critical dimensions (CDs). By delivering superior CD control, VECTOR ALD Oxide has been winning volume-production decisions for multi-patterning applications. Now leveraging Lam's Extreme platform, the latest system meets productivity requirements for continued scaling, where additional steps increase process time, cost, and complexity. As a result, VECTOR ALD Oxide is gaining rapid adoption by a number of leading chipmakers for advanced multi-step patterning applications.

"Multiple patterning continues to be a key inflection for the industry, and spacer-based multi-patterning remains an enabling strategy for chipmakers for both current immersion and future EUV lithography schemes," said Sesha Varadarajan, group vice president, Deposition Product Group. "With this in mind, we are working closely with our customers to deliver cost-effective, extendible solutions required for further scaling, such as the high-productivity atomic-scale control from our VECTOR ALD Oxide product."

By repeating lithography/etch/deposition steps, multiple patterning techniques create smaller features and higher feature densities compared to the capability of current optical lithography using single patterning. To enable scaling for 14 nm and below, chipmakers are adopting self-aligned schemes, including self-aligned double patterning (SADP) and self-aligned quadruple patterning (SAQP), where deposition plays a critical role in forming the pattern-defining spacers. These deposition processes are challenging since they must form high-quality conformal and very uniform films. For example, a 200-300 angstrom-thick film can have only a few angstroms thickness variation across the wafer. For next-generation 10 nm processes, the manufacturing complexity will continue to increase as additional multi-patterning process steps are added, with each step contributing to overall CD variability.

Using Lam's advanced ALD capabilities, the latest VECTOR ALD Oxide system delivers the uniformity required for CD control of the ultra-thin films critical to SADP and SAQP schemes. The quad-station modules process four wafers simultaneously and share components to improve reliability and chamber matching, contributing to industry-leading wafer-to-wafer repeatability performance. The system's compact design delivers as much as 20% higher footprint productivity compared with other solutions. Process hardware has also been optimized to enable fast gas and RF switching, increasing throughput and reducing precursor usage for improved running costs. These innovative process module features combined with the high-productivity platform deliver the performance and cost-efficiency needed for manufacturing. Consequently, VECTOR ALD Oxide is winning development and production tool of record positions at leading manufacturers for advanced multi-patterning applications. This momentum is being successfully expanded to other applications, such as high-aspect ratio liners for through-silicon vias (TSVs) and image sensors.

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