A newly-developed technique for the simultaneos characterization of the oxide-silicon interface properties and of bulk impurities was used for a systematic study of the nitridation process of thin oxides. This technique is based upon surface recombination velocity measurements, and does not require the formation of a capacitor structure, so it is very suitable for the characterization of as-grown interfaces.
Oxides grown both in dry and in wet enviroments were considered, and nitridation processes in N2O and in NO were compared to N2 annealing processes. The effect of nitridation temperature and duration were also studied, and RTO/RTN processes were compared to conventional furnace nitridation processes.
Surface recombination velocity was correlated with nitrogen concentration at the oxide-silicon interface obtained by Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy (SIMS) measurements. Surface recombination velocity (hence surface state density) decreases with increasing nitrogen pile-up at the oxide-silicon interface, indicating that in nitrided interfaces surface state density is limited by nitridation. NO treatments are much more effective than N2O treatments in the formation of a nitrogen-rich interface layer and, as a consequence, in surface state reduction.
Surface state density was measured in fully processed wafers before and after constant current stress. After a complete device process surface states are annealed out by hydrogen passivation, however they are reactivated by the electrical stress, and surface state results after stress were compared with data of surface recombination velocity in as-processed wafers.