Continuing miniaturization of microelectronic devices requires development of low dielectric constant materials to lower the RC delay, power dissipation and crosstalk noise. Although spin-on polymer dielectrics usually have better potential for extendibility to lower dielectric constant (k) values compared to chemical-vapor-deposited dielectrics, their low mechanical properties prevent them from being successfully integrated with copper metal lines.
Recent evaluation of a new thermosetting oligomer shows high thermal stability, low moisture pick-up and low dielectric constant. Techniques to optimize the solubility and spin coating characteristics of the oligomer have been developed. The thermally cured polymer displayed a thermal stability up to 480°C in nitrogen and 400°C in air. The cured polymer displayed a dielectric constant of 2.7 at 1 MHz and a breakdown strength larger than 230 V/μm. Nanoindentation testing showed that it had an extraordinarily high Young's modulus of 16.8 GPa and a hardness of 3.5 GPa. By use of porogens, a dielectric constant as low as 1.85 was obtained while still maintaining an acceptable high Young's modulus of 7.7 GPa and hardness of 2.0 GPa. Nanoscratch testing indicated that this material had good adhesion to the Si substrate, and Ta which is a diffusion barrier for copper. These results appear unique compared to all commercially available low-k candidates.