Nitrogen profile variations were systematically studied for the plasma nitridation process of the dynamic random access memory (DRAM) gate dielectrics, using angle-resolved X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (AR-XPS), and their influences to the boron blocking and the device performances including negative bias temperature instability (NBTI) were investigated. Nitrogen atoms incorporated are localized in the surface vicinity within 1.5 nm of the thickness and at the peak positions around 0.5 nm. The high pressure and high temperature conditions of plasma nitridation are preferred for improving the NBTI and the tool productivity. Post nitridation anneal stabilizes the nitrogen atoms incorporated, and improves the immunity against the boron penetration into the gate dielectrics. Both of re-oxidation and the out-diffusion of nitrogen atoms take place simultaneously near the surface during the queue time after the plasma nitridation. Microwave plasma with the radial line slot antenna (RLSA) is a successful SiON gate insulator formation technology in the manufacturing of DRAM as well as logic devices.
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