PhD abstract

Chalcogenide materials are compounds based on S, Se, and Te elements from group VI of the periodic table. They are receiving an extensive interest not only for applications in resistive memories (PCRAM and CBRAM), photonics and photovoltaics but also in the development of new 2-D materials (e.g. spintronics applications). Chalcogenide materials are already present in the semiconductor roadmaps and it is already replacing flash memories (e.g. phase change material and ovonic threshold switch in new random access memory). For the next technology nodes, chalcogenide properties can be scaled by tuning the chemical composition or by reducing the film thickness. Nonetheless, it also means that their properties become more tightly influenced by the chemical composition, the surface/interface effects and the depth-profile composition. Hence, dedicated metrology protocols must be developed, first to assist the optimization of chalcogenide materials processes in cleanroom environment, then to allow non-destructive process monitoring with industry-driven uncertainties. In this PhD thesis, we developed metrology protocols based on X-ray techniques, dedicated to thin chalcogenides materials and fully compatible with inline monitoring. First, we used quasi in-situ X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) to characterize the surface of Ge, Sb, Te thin materials and compounds, and to study the composition-dependent evolution of the surface after air break and ageing. The efficiency of in situ capping strategies to protect Te-based and Se-based thin layered materials from ageing was also investigated. Secondly, we demonstrated the ability of improved metrology strategies based on in-line Wavelength Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (WDXRF) and XPS to accurately quantify the chemical composition of Ge-Sb-Te compounds (from 1 to 200 nm) and ultrathin 2D transition metal dichalcogenides (MoS₂, WS₂). Combined WDXRF/XPS analysis was used to determine refined values of composition-dependent relative sensitivity factors for Te4d, Sb4d and Ge3d that allow for XPS-based metrology of PCRAM materials with mastered accuracy. We pointed the need for in-depth study of the significant matrix effects that alter the ability of WDXRF to quantify Nitrogen in Ge-Sb-Te materials: ion beam analysis was carefully investigated as possible input for WDXRF calibration, and a WDXRF protocol was established for inline monitoring of N-doped Ge-Sb-Te films in a specific process window. Finally, we investigated two ways to non-destructively characterize the in-depth chemical distribution in thin chalcogenide films: we demonstrated that the combination of XRF in grazing incidence geometry (GIXRF) and X-ray reflectometry (XRR) was able to unambiguously reveal small process differences along with process-induced diffusion in 10 nm-thick stackings. We showed that the use of multilayered substrate instead of silicon allowed fine-tuning of the depth-dependent X-ray standing wave field, resulting in improved sensitivity of XRR/GIXRF strategies. We also developed an angle-resolved XPS protocol for the evaluation of the first deposition steps of GeTe and Ge₂Sb₂Te₅ films, revealing the process-dependent elemental distribution as a function of the film growth. Therefore, in this work we not only elaborated advanced metrology protocols for the development of new chalcogenide films but also metrological solutions for the next technology nodes (28 nm and below), since current in-line metrology tools reach their detection limits.

Key words

chalcogenides, XPS, memories, X-rays metrology, XRF, 2-D materials

PhD thesis