Reliability assessment of ultra-thin HfO 2 films deposited on silicon wafer

Wei En Fu, Chia Wei Chang, Yong Qing Chang, Chih Kai Yao, Jiunn Der Liao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Ultra-thin hafnium dioxide (HfO 2 ) is used to replace silicon dioxide to meet the required transistor feature size in advanced semiconductor industry. The process integration compatibility and long-term reliability for the transistors depend on the mechanical performance of ultra-thin HfO 2 films. The criteria of reliability including wear resistance, thermal fatigue, and stress-driven failure rely on film adhesion significantly. The adhesion and variations in mechanical properties induced by thermal annealing of the ultra-thin HfO 2 films deposited on silicon wafers (HfO 2 /SiO 2 /Si) are not fully understood. In this work, the mechanical properties of an atomic layer deposited HfO 2 (nominal thickness ≈10 nm) on a silicon wafer were characterized by the diamond-coated tip of an atomic force microscope and compared with those of annealed samples. The results indicate that the annealing process leads to the formation of crystallized HfO 2 phases for the atomic layer deposited HfO 2 . The HfSi x O y complex formed at the interface between HfO 2 and SiO 2 /Si, where the thermal diffusion of Hf, Si, and O atoms occurred. The annealing process increases the surface hardness of crystallized HfO 2 film and therefore the resistance to nano-scratches. In addition, the annealing process significantly decreases the harmonic contact stiffness (or thereafter eliminate the stress at the interface) and increases the nano-hardness, as measured by vertically sensitive nano-indentation. Quality assessments on as-deposited and annealed HfO 2 films can be thereafter used to estimate the mechanical properties and adhesion of ultra-thin HfO 2 films on SiO 2 /Si substrates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8974-8979
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Surface Science
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Sept 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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