potential exists for the all-dry processing of photoresist materials. In PECVD there is still support for ECR technology in the United States; for instance, Lam Research offers ECR technology for the deposition of silicon dioxide.
Plasma-based surface cleaning may also become an enabling technology for cluster processing in the semiconductor industry. At this time most of the surface cleaning steps are still being performed using traditional wet methods. These methods are incompatible with the goal of complete vacuum cluster processing and with environmental considerations. A satisfactory dry-cleaning method will probably, more than any other unit-process step, change the way semiconductors are being processed.
The greatest research opportunities, however, are to be found in the field of optical diagnostics. There are three general stages in the production of microelectronic circuits in which diagnostics are important. These stages, listed without priority, are (1) development and characterization of precompetitive materials and processes, (2) comparative analysis and characterization of tools and processes in development, and (3) sensor development for process control and fingerprinting of manufacturing processes. Diagnostic techniques are central to research on semiconductor processing, and significant advances can be made in these areas.
NRL has demonstrated the necessary expertise and equipment for state-of-the art analytical measurement of chemically reactive species in plasma processes. This capability may be used to augment industrial-support programs and federally funded initiatives and for internal NRL and Department of Defense (DOD) missions. Application of this resource to the Dual Use concept is practical and of considerable benefit to NRL and U.S. industry. This section presents an outline of several avenues by which NRL can benefit U.S. competitiveness by partnering with the domestic microelectronics industry and outside programs. In formulating this discussion, the panel adopted a broad-minded, university and industrial perspective based on its members' experience, current topics in the scientific literature and professional conferences, and the announced initiatives of federally funded agencies. These suggestions do not address current defense needs; NRL can provide the best insight into this important aspect of the program. Instead, the panel hopes that NRL can mesh DOD applications and programs with the programs suggested below to provide maximum synergy and vitality for NRL and the U.S. technology base.
The capabilities and facilities provided by NRL are well aligned with the three areas listed above and provide opportunities for NRL to have an impact on U.S. industry. Activities in these technology areas also provide opportunities for NRL and outside researchers to interact and exchange ideas. A robust program of this kind will jumpstart NRL's initiative in the industrial sector by rapidly providing first-hand knowledge of and a perspective on industrial needs and problems. In addition to the technical applications detailed below, personnel programs are also needed to obtain maximum benefit for DOD and industry. One such personnel exchange program is suggested in Chapter 9 .
The continuing trend toward smaller and faster devices and modular packaging of devices drives a need for devices with ever-smaller critical dimensions and for producing films with low or high dielectric constants and materials With special properties, such as boron nitride and diamond films, optoelectronic components, and Si/III-V alloys. Existing instrumentation and personnel at NRL are well suited for these tasks. NRL researchers could greatly assist industry and outside consortia by providing expertise in materials characterization and in situ diagnostic measurements, especially in ventures directed toward developing new