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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Nanoscale Reactive Ion Etching of Silicon Nitride Thin Films for Embedded Nanomagnetic Device Fabrication

  • Author(s): Hibbard-Lubow, David Luke
  • Advisor(s): Schmidt, Holger
  • et al.

The demands of digital memory have increased exponentially in recent history, requiring faster, smaller and more accurate storage methods. Two promising solutions to this ever-present problem are Bit Patterned Media (BPM) and Spin-Transfer Torque Magnetic Random Access Memory (STT-MRAM). Producing these technologies requires difficult and expensive fabrication techniques. Thus, the production processes must be optimized to allow these storage methods to compete commercially while continuing to increase their information storage density and reliability. I developed a process for the production of nanomagnetic devices (which can take the form of several types of digital memory) embedded in thin silicon nitride films. My focus was on optimizing the reactive ion etching recipe required to embed the device in the film. Ultimately, I found that recipe 37 (Power: 250W, CF4 nominal/actual flow rate: 25/25.4 sccm, O2 nominal/actual flow rate: 3.1/5.2 sccm, which gave a maximum pressure around 400 mTorr) gave the most repeatable and anisotropic results. I successfully used processes described in this thesis to make embedded nanomagnets, which could be used as bit patterned media. Another promising application of this work is to make embedded magnetic tunneling junctions, which are the storage medium used in MRAM. Doing so will require still some tweaks to the fabrication methods. Techniques for making these changes and their potential effects are discussed.

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