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Project Summary

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase II project is focused on the development of a copper chemical mechanical planarization (CMP) slurry containing chemically impregnated nanoparticles. The Phase II SBIR effort will focus on three primary objectives:

  1. Optimize the nano-CRC slurry for bulk and 2nd step Cu CMP that meets surface planarity requirements specific for our target customers.
  2. Optimize manufacturing processing to achieve low materials cost.
  3. Process (pilot line scale-up) for end user sample evaluation.

Key Words: Chemical Mechanical Planarization, copper CMP slurry, functionalized nanoparticles, semiconductor manufacturing
Topic Name: NM - Nanotechnology, Advanced Materials, Manufacturing
Subtopic Letter: AM6 – Coatings and Surface Modification

Intellectual Merit:
This Small Business Innovative Research Phase II project is focused on development of a copper chemical mechanical planarization (CMP) slurry. An important step in semiconductor manufacturing is CMP, which uses an aqueous slurry containing abrasives and chemical components in conjunction with a polishing pad to remove material and to planarize the wafer. As device sizes decrease, next generation CMP slurries must achieve planarization on increasingly higher aspect ratio structures. Current copper CMP slurries have a limited planarization efficiency (PE) (ratio of step height removed to thickness removed). Without an improvement in PE, CMP is going to become an increasingly expensive and limiting step in the semiconductor manufacturing process. General Engineering & Research, L.L.C. is developing a copper CMP slurry containing nano-sized contact release capsules (nano-CRC). Nano-CRC based slurries consist of a core-shell nanoparticle where the mechanical and chemical components are combined into a single entity. During Phase I, nano-CRC particles made from porous colloidal silica abrasives were impregnated with glycine, and then coated with a polymer to encapsulate the glycine. Initial results have yielded simultaneously high PE and high material removal rate, which will improve planarity and decrease processing costs.  

Broader/Commercial Applications and Other Benefits:
The proposed innovation has the potential to advance the state-of-the-art in CMP slurry formulation and enable the continued scale down of next generation microelectronic devices. Specifically, the copper CMP slurry market is currently $340M, and expected to grow to greater than $500M by 2016 due to the increase in the number of Cu CMP steps as devices continue to shrink. With 5% market share, a $4M per year net profit is predicted for the manufacturing company that sells nano-CRC slurry. Additionally, a copper CMP slurry that can achieve both high through-put and high planarity would yield a product with a very high return on investment for semiconductor manufacturers. Further, the nano-CRC technology can be used to impregnate nanoparticles with different chemical payloads, and different base nanoparticles can also be used (i.e. alumina). This indicates the technologies potential to be used as a platform to provide solutions for a variety of industries, both within the realm of CMP where it may be possible to use on other CMP polishing steps, and also for other non-CMP polishing processes, including optical materials, glass polishing, cleaning, etc.