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New Product: ‚??Applied’s millisecond laser anneal system tackles sensitive NiSi transistor layers

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Product Briefing Outline: Applied Materials has introduced its new ‘Applied Vantage Astra’ millisecond anneal system used for transistor fabrication that enables faster, lower power consumption devices. Targeted for creating the sensitive nickel silicide (NiSi) transistor contact layers in 45nm and beyond logic chips the laser-based system can enhance drive current, and reduce gate leakage by an order of magnitude, helping to significantly increase device performance and yield. According to Applied, the compact design delivers more than twice the wafer output of competing systems and the lowest available cost of ownership (CoO).

Problem: The Astra DSA system can ramp instantaneously from a pre-heat condition as low as 100°C to an ultra-high temperature with a similarly rapid cool-down, which dramatically reduces the formation of source/drain defects that pose risks of current leakage and can reduce yield. Reaching a uniquely high temperature during silicidation produces more dopant activation, which translates into lower contact resistance, desired for optimal electrical conductivity and thus device speed and efficiency.

Solution: Key to the Vantage Astra system’s performance is its novel dynamic surface annealing (DSA) technology, an innovative thermal processing method that abruptly raises the surface temperature of the wafer locally to modify material properties at the atomic level. In less than a millisecond, the Astra system can heat the wafer to over 1,000°C from a low, sub-200°C starting point. This unique capability is essential for customers looking to create optimum-quality NiSi films without any detrimental effect to the wafer. The Astra DSA system’s uniquely wide operating range (100°C to above 1300°C) enables the versatility to perform ultra-shallow junction (USJ) anneals in series with silicidation, using a straightforward transition between the two. For USJ applications, the laser enables highly effective activation, complementing adjacent Spike anneal in creating optimally shallow and highly activated source-drains for 45nm and below. Moreover, the system’s wide process window and ambient control capabilities offer broad potential for new applications (e.g., compatibility with SiGe, SiC, metal anneals).

Can perform all thermal processing steps – millisecond, spike and soak anneals, plus multiple nitridation and oxidation applications

Platform: The Vantage platform can be configured with two Astra millisecond anneal chambers or one Astra chamber combined with a conventional RTP ‘RadiancePlus’ or ‘RadOx’ chamber. A diode-stack laser simplifies operation, improves product reliability, and reduces costs; streamlined design results in a compact, high-throughput tool (>40 wph for a two-chamber configuration) that more than doubles productivity and enhances cost-effectiveness compared with alternative millisecond anneal systems. In addition, special wafer handling techniques avoid breakage and minimize contamination.

Availability: December 2009 onwards.

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