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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Experimental Investigation of Material Removal Characteristics in Silicon Chemical Mechanical Polishing


The material removal characteristics of a silicon wafer were experimentally investigated with respect to the chemical dissolution and mechanical abrasion of the wafer during silicon chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) using an alkali-based slurry. The silicon surface without native oxide is rapidly dissolved by the slurry containing an amine agent, which effectively leads to the reduced hardness of the loaded silicon wafer due to Si–Si bond breaking during polishing. The abrasive particles in the slurry easily remove the reacted silicon surface, and the removal rate and wafer non-uniformity for abrasive concentrations of 1.5–3 wt% are better than those for other concentrations because of the low and steady coefficient of friction (COF) owing to the evenness of abrasive particles between the wafer and pad. Also, it was found that a high slurry flow rate of 700–1000cm3/min improves wafer non-uniformity owing to the reduced temporal variation of temperature, because the slurry acts as a good cooling source during polishing. However, the removal rate remains almost constant upon varying the slurry flow rate because of the effective dissolution characteristic of the slurry with abundant amine as an accelerator, regardless of the reduction of average temperature with increasing slurry flow rate. In the break-in process used to stabilize the material removal, the viscoelastic behaviors of the pad and the ground wafer surface with native oxide and wheel marks cause a temporal change of the friction force during polishing, which is related to the removal rate and wafer non-uniformity. As a result, the stabilization of removal rate and wafer non-uniformity is achieved through a steady-state process with elevated temperature and reduced COF after a total polishing time of 60 min, based on the removal process of the wafer surface and the permanent deformation in the viscoelastic behavior of the pad.

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