Because of aggressive downscaling to increase transistor performance, the physical thickness of the SiO2 gate dielectric is rapidly approaching the limit where it will only consist of a few atomic layers. As a consequence, this will result in very high leakage currents due to direct tunneling. To allow further scaling, materials with a k-value higher than SiO2 (“high-k materials”) are explored, such that the thickness of the dielectric can be increased without degrading performance.
Based on our experimental results, we discuss the potential of MOCVD-deposited HfO2 to scale to (sub)-1-nm EOTs (Equivalent Oxide Thickness). A primary concern is the interfacial layer that is formed between the Si and the HfO2, during the MOCVD deposition process, for both H-passivated and SiO2-like starting surfaces. This interfacial layer will, because of its lower k-value, significantly contribute to the EOT and reduce the benefit of the high-k material. In addition, we have experienced serious issues integrating HfO2 with a polySi gate electrode at the top interface depending on the process conditions of polySi deposition and activation anneal used. Furthermore, we have determined, based on a thickness series, the k-value for HfO2 deposited at various temperatures and found that the k-value of the HfO2 depends upon the gate electrode deposited on top (polySi or TiN).
Based on our observations, the combination of MOCVD HfO2 with a polySi gate electrode will not be able to scale below the 1-nm EOT marker. The use of a metal gate however, does show promise to scale down to very low EOT values.