Work Function Tuning in Sub-20nm Titanium Nitride (TiN) Metal Gate: Mechanism and Engineering

  • Mehdi Hasan

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Scaling of transistors (the building blocks of modern information age) provides faster computation at the expense of excessive power dissipation. Thus to address these challenges, high-k/metal gate stack has been introduced in commercially available microprocessors from 2007. Since then titanium nitride (TiN) metal gate’s work function (Wf) tunability with its thickness (thickness increases, work function increases) is a well known phenomenon. Many hypotheses have been made over the years which include but not limited to: trap charge and metal gate nucleation, nitrogen concentration, microstructure agglomeration and global stress, metal oxide formation, and interfacial oxide thickness. However, clear contradictions exist in these assumptions. Also, nearly all these reports skipped a comprehensive approach to explain this complex paradigm. Therefore, in this work we first show a comprehensive physical investigation using transmission electron microcopy/electron energy loss spectroscopy (TEM/EELS), x-ray diffraction (XRD), x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and secondary ion mass spectroscopy (SIMS) to show replacement of oxygen by nitrogen in the metal/dielectric interface, formation of TiONx, reduction of Ti/N concentration and grain size increment happen with TiN thickness increment and thus may increase the work function. Then, using these finding, we experimentally show 100meV of work function modulation in 10nm TiN Metal-oxide-semiconductor capacitor by using low temperature oxygen annealing. A low thermal budget flow (replicating gate-last) shows similar work function boost up. Also, a work function modulation of 250meV has been possible using oxygen annealing and applying no thermal budget. On the other hand, etch-back of TiN layer can decrease the work function. Thus this study quantifies role of various factors in TiN work function tuning; it also reproduces the thickness varied TiN work function modulation in single thickness TiN thus reducing the burden of complex integration and gate stack etch; and finally it shows that in a low thermal budget flow, it is more effective to achieve higher work function.
Date of AwardJul 2011
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorMuhammad Mustafa Hussain (Supervisor)

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