Keeping devices active during deprocessing can be a major frustration for reliability engineers. Reactive ion etching (RIE) provides a rapid, controlled and acid-free method for delayering integrated circuits. However, RIE places a working device directly on a powered electrode, and this can produce surface contamination, charge damage, and waste many man-hours by destroying one-of-a-kind parts. This paper discusses a new reactor type which solves these problems, the inductively coupled plasma (ICP) source. A comparison of etch results (etch rate, surface cleanliness and plasma voltages) was performed in both reactive ion and inductively coupled plasma systems. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and surface analysis using scanning Auger spectroscopy were performed. Significant improvements in etch profiles and cleanliness of deprocessing were found.

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