Amorphous boron-nitride could be next IC insulator

Amorphous boron-nitride could be next IC insulator

Technology News |
By Peter Clarke

Boron nitride has the potential to form a 2D crystalline material with an hexagonal structure. And it was in this area that researchers had been working before coming across the properties of the amorphous form of the material. The researchers are from Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT), the University of Cambridge, the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2, Spain). The team has published a paper about the properties of amorphous boron-nitride (a-BN) in Nature.

The team has shown that a-BN can be deposited from plasma as thin film with dielectric constant of 1.78, a high breakdown voltage and superior metal barrier properties. With the dielectric constant 30 percent lower than that of currently available insulators that makes a-BN a candidate for next-generation ICs.

The pursuit of low-k dielectrics has resulted in experimentation around porous structures but as geometries continue to shrink this becomes less viable and also produces mechanically weak layers within ICs.

The researchers synthesized 3nm thin a-BN layer on a Si substrate, using low temperature remote inductively coupled plasma-chemical vapour deposition (ICP-CVD).

Next: Copming out of 2D work

“We found that temperature was the most important parameter with ideal a-BN film deposition occurring at 400 degree C,” said Seokmo Hong in the Doctoral program of Natural Sciences, the first author of the study. “This material with ultra-low-k also manifests a high breakdown voltage and likely superior metal barrier properties, making the film very attractive for practical electronic applications.”

The material also show excellent prevention of metal atom migration from interconnect into the insulator. If the need for additional barrier layers on interconnect this could simplify IC production.

The research has been a spin-off from work on 2D material systems such as graphene and crystalline boron-nitride, which also show great promise for future integrated circuits. The low temperature deposition is also a boon it is expected that a-BN could be used in memories such as DRAM and 3D-NAND.

Related links and articles:

Nature paper

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