TOKYO -- During the Semicon Japan trade show here this week, Applied Materials Inc. is launching an integrated platform for copper deposition, annealing steps, and wafer-edge cleaning. Applied said its new Electra Cu Integrated ElectroChemical Plating (ECP) system is the industry's first copper electroplating system to integrate annealing and bevel cleaning processes.
Applied said the new integrated tool addresses a key issue in copper interconnect processing--cost. With the integrated edge-clean and anneal steps, the copper electroplating system can maintain a throughput of over 70 wafers per hour. Both 200- and 300-mm wafers can be accommodated by the same system platform, according to Applied managers.
"Our new integrated ECP system provides a major cost savings to our customers, reducing aprocess flow that formerly required three tools into a single system," said Robin Cheung, general
manager of Applied Materials' Copper Division, based in Santa Clara, Calif. "Film quality and yield are also significantly influenced by the integration of these processes. Having in-line anneal capability helps stabilize the copper microstructure and reduces wafer-to-wafer variation for consistent CMP removal.
"The bevel clean allows customers to obtain full copper coverage on the wafer, maximizing the die per wafer and minimizing cross contamination and defects," he added.
Annealing with high temperatures is a key step in the copper process flow that increases the conductivity of the deposited metal and stabilizes it for subsequent chemical mechanical planarization (CMP) steps. Annealing is usually done in a separate furnace. The integrated annealing capability saves cleanroom floorspace, increases electroplating productivity, and reduces cycle time, according to Applied.
The new platform also integrates a new bevel-clean process to take care of wafer edges. It is guaranteed with a 3-mm edge exclusion that Applied Materials said enables higher yields by extending the number of usable die per wafer.
"With bevel clean capability and in-line annealing, the system delivers high yielding wafers and eliminates the batch furnace bottlenecks that inhibit the process flow," said Fusen Chen, vice president and general manager of Applied's Copper and Aluminum Systems and Modules Product Group. "Chip makers can now consolidate copper metallization into three well-defined steps -- barrier & seed layer deposition, electroplating and CMP. Applied Materials has optimized all three of these key technologies to ensure maximum overall equipment effectiveness and technical excellence," he stated.