vendors or the end-users. ECR is, however, finding application for other materials processing applications outside the arena of fine line etching for microelectronics fabrication. For example, ECR is currently being investigated for diamond deposition, deposition of thin dielectric films for flat panel displays, and optical coatings. ECR discharges for these applications operate in a different parameter space (in terms of power, pressure, and gas mixture) from microelectronics fabrication, and therefore modeling of those systems should address the appropriate parameters.

The NRL M&S team would profit from interaction and visits with Sematech, Semiconductor Research Corporation, plasma equipment vendors (e.g., Lam Research, Applied Materials, PMT), and end-users to become familiar with the problems facing the microelectronics industry and to learn what is expected of M&S. For example, understanding and remediating the RIE lag (the phenomenon that features having different aspect ratios etch at different rates) have a high priority with almost all equipment vendors. There is an expectation by the vendors and end-users that any plasma equipment model “worth its salt” should be able to shed some light on these topics. There is also great concern about the effects of specific types of construction materials on the uniformity of the plasma and generation of particles. The details of these latter issues may be specific to particular equipment vendors or end-users. One should also appreciate the extremely short time scales of interest to the industry. For example, Sematech Equipment Improvement Programs, in which specific plasma equipment tools are “improved,” have durations of less than 1 year.

There are currently two, and soon to be a third, major modeling efforts for plasma equipment for microelectronics fabrication at other national laboratories. Sandia National Laboratories has a CRADA with Sematech to develop plasma equipment models for low-gas-pressure, high-plasma-density tools with emphasis on ICPs. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has a CRADA with AT&T Bell Laboratories and IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, as well as many “side agreements” with individual vendors, for plasma equipment modeling with emphasis on ICPs, helicons, and alternate configurations. Los Alamos National Laboratory is currently negotiating a CRADA with Semiconductor Research Corporation to perform similar modeling with emphasis on feature scale issues and may team with one of the other national laboratories. The greatest contribution that the NRL M& S effort can make to the micro-electronics industry will most likely come as a contributing member to this growing team of national laboratories, a task that will require significant coordination on both the scientific and managerial levels. The panel strongly urges the NRL M&S team to leverage and coordinate its efforts with those of the other national labora-tories and universities engaged in plasma equipment modeling.



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