The new Queensland Microtechnology Facility at Griffith University has
a Gamma sputtering system from Surrey
NanoSystems, to support commercially-backed research into advanced
The prime application for the system is to research, develop and
pilot production procedures for silicon-carbide-on-silicon (SiC-on-Si)
- on wafers of up to 200 mm diameter. Established with support from the
State Government, Queensland Microtechnology Facility (QMF) has developed
unique epitaxial SiC-on-Si wafer deposition process. By combining the
semiconductor and physical properties of SiC with low cost silicon wafers,
is creating a platform technology that has the potential to enable radical
generations of semiconductor devices - and electronics products.
One of the many performance advantages of SiC is its low leakage, and
new forms of semiconductor memory for non-volatile and volatile
are some of the researchers' ambitious targets. The markets for these
alone are massive: today's Flash memory business alone is worth over $22
annually - and the total semiconductor memory market exceeds $60 billion.
memory research and development is funded by Qs Semiconductor Corporation.
A novel SiC-on-Si non-volatile memory cell with a performance exceeding
commercial criteria has already been demonstrated. QMF's memory cell
is very simple and the researchers believe it has the potential to be
easily with current silicon fabrication technology - allowing a fast
into production at 65 nm or smaller node geometries.
Surrey NanoSystems won the competitive tender for three main reasons: the
of the hardware and its control system to replicate commercial production
the flexibility of the system to support wide-ranging research, and the
quality vacuum engineering.
The Gamma sputtering system was specified and chosen by Alan Iacopi,
and Deputy Director of the Queensland Microtechnology Facility, whose
includes wafer fabrication experience as a process engineer and more than
years in the development of semiconductor production equipment. Surrey
control architecture, which employs a combination of a dedicated real-time
controller for the processing hardware with an industrial PC front-end for
user interface, was a big plus point for him compared with the standard
used on some other systems. He also liked the system's operating software,
which is purpose designed and provides a simple graphical means of
and modifying custom processing 'recipes'.
"We carry out commercially funded projects, and so porting of
into production to minimize time to market is of paramount importance to
investors," says Alan Iacopi. "Gamma was a system I could get
about as it met the sophisticated design and processing attributes we
to support our wide-ranging research and development goals, including the
of complex aluminium interconnect metallization to replicate commercial
processes. The control software was also the most feature-rich of all
The superior electrical, thermal, optical and mechanical properties of
SiC make it an interesting material to support progress not only in
device performance, but also in numerous other emerging technologies.
device-quality SiC films on silicon wafers is a very promising means for
carbide to enter mainstream electronics markets. The Queensland
Facility has some unique ideas for successfully fabricating this materials
at temperatures low enough for integrated circuit manufacturing, and
its success with non-volatile memory, it is targeting research at a broad
of advanced semiconductor devices and other technologies that could
from SiC-on-Si. These include power electronics, solar cells, devices for
systems, and optoelectronics.
The equipment chosen is a configuration of Surrey NanoSystems' Gamma
tool, an advanced PVD (physical vapor deposition) sputtering system that
highly optimized for both performance and versatility of use, and is
used in R&D and pilot production applications. Capable of deposition
200 mm diameter wafers or substrates, the system's very high vacuum
of 5 x 10-9 Torr, which is as much as two orders of magnitude higher than
other commercially available sputtering systems, provides an exceptionally
environment to aid uniform film deposition. Developed and refined over
10 years, the company uses a number of novel materials and system building
to reduce out-gassing, and enhance the level of cleanliness that can be
Surrey NanoSystems is also fitting a brand new reactive gas control
- which is believed to be a first for commercial sputtering systems.
of a conventional DC pulse controlled process, the Gamma system will use
emission spectroscopy to dynamically control a high performance gas
system. Reactive gas control provides a much faster alternative to radio
(RF) deposition, combined with comprehensive control over the
of the deposited films. The integrated optical emission spectroscopy
allows users to monitor the process and modify it dynamically - providing
means to avoid the common problem of 'target poisoning'.