Inductively coupled plasma nanoetching of atomic layer deposition alumina

Anpan Han*, Bingdong Chang, Matteo Todeschini, Hoa Thanh Le, William Tiddi, Matthias Keil

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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    Al2O3 thin-film deposited by atomic layer deposition is an attractive plasma etch mask for Micro and Nano Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS and NEMS). 20-nm-thick Al2O3 mask enables through silicon wafer plasma etching. Al2O3 is also an excellent etch mask for other important MEMS materials such as silicon dioxide, silicon nitride, and diamond. In this report, we systematically study nanoscale plasma etching of Al2O3 with electron beam lithography and deep UV resist masks. The gas composition and pressure were tuned for optimal etching, and redeposition conditions were mapped. With a BCl3 and Ar plasma chemistry, the Al2O3 etch rate was controlled to between 0.1 and 1 nm/min. The etch selectivity of Al2O3 over resist ranged between 1:4 to 1:1. Etch-rate was linearly dependent on the substrate bias power. The etch profile angle can be controlled to between 20 and 82° that almost preserved the resist profile angle. For Al2O3 patterned with deep UV lithography, the smallest structures were 220 nm. For electron beam lithography patterns, the smallest gratings were 18-nm-wide with 50-nm-pitch. Using alumina as a hard mask, we show aspect ratio of 7-10 for subsequent silicon plasma etching, and we etched diamond nanopillars in single crystalline diamond. Based on these studies, we provide guidelines for alumina plasma etching on the nanoscale.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalMicroelectronic Engineering
    Pages (from-to)28-33
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    • Plasma etching
    • Aluminum oxide
    • Atomic layer deposition
    • Inductively coupled plasma
    • Electron beam lithography
    • Deep UV lithography

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