Praxair MRC's Thin Film Applications Laboratory
As Praxair MRC pioneers the further development of sputter targets, the use of its Thin Films Applications Laboratory provides a unique opportunity to fully characterize target performance. Whether it is to evaluate how manufacturing processes impact target performance and film quality or to evaluate refinements and enhancements to current target designs for improved cost of ownership, the laboratory serves as an indispensable tool.
Praxair MRC’s Thin Films Application Laboratory is a powerful asset for use in the advancement sputter target technology. The center piece of the laboratory is its 200 mm (8") Applied Materials Endura 5500. This tool is equipped with both standard and wide body chambers and has reactive deposition capabilities. Adding support to the capabilities is a a TEL 150 mm (6") Eclipse and a number of sputtering test stands designed to operate with a variety of sputtering cathodes. Test and measurement tools provide data on such parameters as film sheet resisitivity, reflectivity, stress and microstructure.
This laboratory serves three main purposes.
Optimizing Target Performance
The development of sputter target technology requires that Praxair MRC engineers understand the impact of manufacturing process on target performance and resulting thin film properties. Praxair MRC’s target metallurgical concepts center of its CCH technology, a combination of thermo-mechanical processes developed to assure a consistent grain structure and crystallographic texture. To achieve the optimize performance, designed experiments are run with sputtering characteristics and film properties measured in the Applications Laboratory being the primary dependent variables. Having direct access to the sputtering tools allows Praxair MRC engineers to finely tune processes through iterative evaluations of targets.
With the continuing pressure to reduce sputtering target cost of ownership, Praxair MRC engineers must be sure to balance cost reduction efforts with maintaining optimal performance. The worthiness of the process modifications are qualified within the Thin Films Applications Laboratory.
With manufacturing sites on 3 continents, Praxair MRC WorldProduct program assures consistent target performance independent of manufacturing site. To meet this objective, the Praxair MRC Thin Film Application Laboratory serves to qualify each manufacturing site on the basis of target performance and film quality. Successful qualification enables each location to be fully certified to produce each target type.
One critical aspect of target performance is through life testing. While fabs and OEM’s may not have the resources available to conduct such tests, Praxair MRC’s Thin Film Applications laboratory is equipped with a number of test stands designed specifically to put life on targets. These tools are programmed to cycle targets as if they were in a production tool and they are set to run for 10’s and 100’s or kwhs. At regular intervals, the targets are then mounted into functional tools for thin film analysis. This provides a rapid method to evaluate such factors as uniformity, deposition rate roll off, film stress, reflectivity and film composition determine through life performance.Troubleshooting
Field issues can be resolved. The application Lab affords Praxair MRC the ability to duplicate the conditions under which users run targets. If there is a problem in the film, Praxair MRC can recreate a users process to verify whether it is a target or a tool issue. Though FMEA, if it is determined that a problem is target related, the Application Laboratory is utilized to test the resolution of the problem.
Refinements and Enhancements to Target Designs
Praxair MRC’s REAliTY" target program is a value engineering effort seeking to provide refinements and enhancements to existing target designs aimed at bringing additional value to users through
The RE-Al target, a ring enhanced monolithic design of the Endura Durasource target is an example of the output of the REAliTY program. These targets are designed to extend target life by 25 to 50%. To evaluate and optimize the performance of this new design, targets were sputtered in the Thin Films Application Laboratory. Optimum Target to Substrate, T-S, spacing are determined and enable fab engineers to easily introduce these cost savings into their operations.
Often, the process engineer in the fab is limited in his ability to run experiments as fab tools are tied up with production requirements. Working directly with these engineers, the Praxair MRC Thin Film applications laboratory is made available to conduct off line experiments. Clean from end, <Class 100, assures that films deposited in the Application Laboratory can be introduced back into the engineers fab for further processing and testing.
The Praxair MRC Thin Films Application Laboratory is a unique and invaluable tool for the advancement of sputter target technology, for troubleshooting and overall target performance characterization. Combined with Praxair MRC’s full state-of –the-art analytical Laboratory, complete film quality can be determined. The laboratory provides a unique opportunity for fab engineers and Praxair MRC to collaborate in off line experiments and to rapidly achieve conclusions to new technical challenges.