The Impact of Interconnect
Interconnects serve as the streets and highways of the integrated circuit (IC), connecting elements of the IC into a functioning whole and to the outside world. Interconnect levels (or metal layers) vary in numbers depending on the complexity of the device and are interconnected by etching holes, called vias. Fabricating these intricate structures is one of the most process-intensive and cost-sensitive portions of chip manufacturing. The interconnect inflection revolves around the growing number of metal layers in devices and the effect that higher wiring densities have had on the evolution of insulating films and the new process steps these have required.
What role does Applied Materials play?
The Applied Materials suite of technologies encompasses every process required for interconnect fabrication:
- Insulator (dielectric) deposition and specialized treatments
- Dieletric etch to create the trenches and vias to be filled with copper
- Barrier deposition to prevent copper from diffusing into the dielectric, which can cause shorting
- Copper seed layer deposition, which facilitates electrodeposition to fill the trenches and vias
- Electrodeposition of bulk copper
- Chemical mechanical planarization to remove copper overburden and create a smooth wafer surface for the next step in the fabrication sequence
Applied’s deposition, etch, and planarization technologies encompass every aspect of interconnect fabrication.