3D NAND flash scaling relies mainly on increasing vertical stack height, thus putting challenges mostly on film deposition and etch. Among various fabrication steps, high aspect ratio (HAR) ONON channel hole etch remains the most critical step. One unique aspect of the 3D NAND process flow is that nitride film in the ONON pair is a sacrificial layer that is been replaced with W at a later stage. The SiN removal process flow provides opportunities to look at possibilities of optimizing oxide and nitride films at different layers to enable better channel hole etch, such as enlarging bottom hole CD, reducing bowing and twisting in the middle area, and etc. In this paper, we will highlight the approaches and benefits on deposition and etch co-optimization as one potential pathway to overcome barrier in HAR ONON channel hole patterning. Besides ONON HAR, hard mask is another key focus. We will also discuss the possible mask material selection consideration based the overall film properties, etch selectivity and final clean/removability perspectives.
Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography is crucial to enabling technology scaling in pitch and critical dimension (CD). Currently, one of the key challenges of introducing EUV lithography to high volume manufacturing (HVM) is throughput, which requires high source power and high sensitivity chemically amplified photoresists. Important limiters of high sensitivity chemically amplified resists (CAR) are the effects of photon shot noise and resist blur on the number of photons received and of photoacids generated per feature, especially at the pitches required for 7 nm and 5 nm advanced technology nodes. These stochastic effects are reflected in via structures as hole-to-hole CD variation or local CD uniformity (LCDU). Here, we demonstrate a synergy of film stack deposition, EUV lithography, and plasma etch techniques to improve LCDU, which allows the use of high sensitivity resists required for the introduction of EUV HVM. Thus, to improve LCDU to a level required by 5 nm node and beyond, film stack deposition, EUV lithography, and plasma etch processes were combined and co-optimized to enhance LCDU reduction from synergies.
Test wafers were created by depositing a pattern transfer stack on a substrate representative of a 5 nm node target layer. The pattern transfer stack consisted of an atomically smooth adhesion layer and two hardmasks and was deposited using the Lam VECTOR PECVD product family. These layers were designed to mitigate hole roughness, absorb out-of-band radiation, and provide additional outlets for etch to improve LCDU and control hole CD. These wafers were then exposed through an ASML NXE3350B EUV scanner using a variety of advanced positive tone EUV CAR. They were finally etched to the target substrate using Lam Flex dielectric etch and Kiyo conductor etch systems. Metrology methodologies to assess dimensional metrics as well as chip performance and defectivity were investigated to enable repeatable patterning process development.
Illumination conditions in EUV lithography were optimized to improve normalized image log slope (NILS), which is expected to reduce shot noise related effects. It can be seen that the EUV imaging contrast improvement can further reduce post-develop LCDU from 4.1 nm to 3.9 nm and from 2.8 nm to 2.6 nm. In parallel, etch processes were developed to further reduce LCDU, to control CD, and to transfer these improvements into the final target substrate. We also demonstrate that increasing post-develop CD through dose adjustment can enhance the LCDU reduction from etch. Similar trends were also observed in different pitches down to 40 nm. The solutions demonstrated here are critical to the introduction of EUV lithography in high volume manufacturing. It can be seen that through a synergistic deposition, lithography, and etch optimization, LCDU at a 40 nm pitch can be improved to 1.6 nm (3-sigma) in a target oxide layer and to 1.4 nm (3-sigma) at the photoresist layer.