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The Effect of Cu Alloying on Al Alloy Thin Films: Microstructural Mechanisms That Enhance Electromigration Resistance

  • D. R. Frear (a1), J. R. Michael (a1) and A. D. Romig (a1)


The microstructural evolution of unpatterned Al-2wt.%Cu thin films has been examined to elucidate the mechanism by which copper improves electromigration resistance. After annealing at 425°C and cooling to room temperature at a rate of approximately 1°C/min., the microstructure of the Al-Cu films consisted of 1 μm aluminum grains with θ-phase Al2Cu precipitates at grain boundaries and triple points. The grain size and precipitation distribution did not change with subsequent isothermal heat treatments in the temperature range of 200° to 400°C. Al-Cu thin films annealed at 400°C, a temperature just below the Al/Al+θ solvus, exhibited microstructures in which the aluminum grain boundaries were depleted in copper except for the presence of the pre-existing large, widely dispersed AI2Cu precipitates. Al-Cu thin films annealed at 200° to 300°C were enriched with copper at the aluminum grain boundaries. The large, widely dispersed Al2Cu precipitates remained after the lower temperature anneals. From these results, it is proposed that the presence of copper in aluminum thin films improves electromigration resistance due to the precipitation of a thin film of Al2Cu, or a substoichiometric precursor, along the grain boundaries. The grain boundary phase retards grain boundary diffusion in the thin films, thereby reducing total mass transport and improving electromigration resistance.



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