Clearly, monolithic 3D integration has a very important role for the future of the semiconductor industry.
At the CEA-Leti Day July 8 during Semicon West, Hughes Metras, Leti's vice president of strategic partnerships for North America, introduced the lead talk about monolithic 3D technology as the "solution for scaling." The Leti device technology roadmap that Hughes presented showed monolithic 3D (M3D) as an alternative to scaling from the 2Xnm nodes to past 5 nm.
Olivier Faynot, Leti's device department director and a well-known device scientist (with more than 170 papers/publications), entitled his talk "M3D, a disruptive approach for further scaling" and started with why the industry needs such a solution.
The majority of people in the industry agree that scaling past the 22nm node, though still quite technically feasible, has priced itself out of most markets. Faynot discussed the "what" (transistor costs are no longer decreasing) and the "why" (litho cost escalation and connectivity inefficiencies of energy and delay). Then he said, "If we just keep the current [2Xnm] technology, we can go farther in cost scaling."
Tech Design Forum's summary of a Qualcomm executive's DAC 2014 keynote offers more information on this crucial topic. So do a pair of EE Times blogs by Zvi Or-Bach.
The solution is to build the stack sequentially in a monolithic fashion. (See Monolithic 3D IC Technologies.) Faynot described a process flow wherein the lower level (first layer) of transistors and its interconnect are made conventionally, some interlevel metal is crafted to help the vertical interconnection, and a second layer of monocrystalline silicon is layer transferred and oxide-oxide bonded at low temperature to the top of the interlevel metal dielectric. This is a blanket layer, so there are no alignment issues such as those suffered by the thick layer and pre-made (TSV) parallel processing flows. The layer that is transferred in M3D is very thin, so that direct alignment to the lower-level alignment marks can be made with conventional equipment, and conventional alignment tolerances (single-digit nanometers) can be achieved.
Upper-level transistors are formed utilizing solid-phase epitaxial regrow (SPER) for junction doping at 475-600°C and lower-temperature processing (less than 400°C) for things like gate stacks. The upper-level and inter-level vertical interconnect is then processed, again with full alignment capability to the lower layer. (Note that the lower-level transistor salicides are stabilized with platinum and fluorine/tungsten implantation to enable their survival at the 475-600°C SPER thermal exposure.)
In the Q&A session, Faynot was asked what the observed performance differences were between the upper-level and lower-level transistors. "Currently, we are achieving 95%" of the lower for the upper, he said. "We believe we can make 100%."
He also talked about using laser annealing to activate implanted dopants and repair damages during upper-level transistor processing. The laser option of solving the thermal challenge of monolithic 3D is the "crème brûlée" of methods, and Leti is "seeing good results." Hopefully, we will see published data soon. My recent Solid State Technology blog offers more information on SPER and laser processing.
Faynot was also asked if stress is a big issue. He replied that stress is not an issue. Rather, the biggest challenges are integration ones.
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