The back-end-of-line (BEOL) structure of current IC devices fabricated for advanced technologies is composed of film stacks with multiple interfaces. The requirement of high interfacial strength is therefore necessary between the different layers in the BEOL stacks to ensure device reliability. To enhance the IC performance for new technologies, inter-level dielectric (ILD) made of SiO2 is replaced by low-k and ultra low-k (ULK) dielectrics, which possess a low dielectric constant but have poor mechanical strength. Therefore, the challenge in maintaining BEOL film stack integrity and reliability becomes even greater for advanced technologies. In this paper, we show failure analysis results on a case study of ULK adhesion failure during the IC manufacturing process. The symptoms of the BEOL failure are due to debris dropping on the wafer during chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) after Cu thin film deposition and failure of focusing at wafer extreme edge during the subsequent photolithography process. Extensive mechanical and chemical analyses were conducted on the ULK and adjacent thin films. It was revealed that the interface of ULK and Silicon Nitride from a suspected problematic machine showed abnormally low adhesion energy and high carbon composition. Troubleshooting on that suspected machine found a clog in the foreline. Based on the failure analysis and machine troubleshooting results, the failure mechanism of the case was discussed.

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