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Characterization of the Crystallization and Grain Growth of Amorphous, Silicon Rich, Low Stress Silicon Nitride

[+] Author Affiliations
James M. Olson

Fairchild Semiconductor, South Portland, ME

Paper No. IMECE2002-33300, pp. 165-172; 8 pages
  • ASME 2002 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Microelectromechanical Systems
  • New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, November 17–22, 2002
  • Conference Sponsors: Microelectromechanical Systems
  • ISBN: 0-7918-3642-8 | eISBN: 0-7918-1691-5, 0-7918-1692-3, 0-7918-1693-1
  • Copyright © 2002 by ASME


Stoichiometric silicon nitride (Si3 N4 ) serves a variety of functions in semiconductor manufacturing. The intrinsic component of the residual stress of a sub-set of this material, so-called low stress nitride (LSN), is a function of the excess Si present in the lattice. In microscopic electro-mechanical systems (MEMS), this material is used as an etch-stop, insulating material and foundation layer for a variety of complicated structures. Under a variety of processing conditions, localized regions of LSN are susceptible to crystallization. In some cases, the crystallization event may form a region of low electrical resistance leading to electrical shorts in MEMs devices and other problems. The crystallization event is explained by a reduction in thermodynamic free energy brought about by the presence of a potential energy barrier lowering catalyst. Catalysts are shown to include but are not limited to inhomogeneities in the distribution of dopant species and seed particles located at the free-surface or interface between the LSN and a capping layer. Following crystallization, the growth front propagates by precipitation of excess Si ahead of the growing crystalline region. As in all grain growth/crystallization events, the event is driven by time and temperature.

Copyright © 2002 by ASME



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