Designing the semiconductors of the future

09-07-2016

Silicon, the workhorse of the semiconductor industry is coming up against its physical limitations. To continue driving the increased speed, miniaturization and functionality of microelectronics, manufacturers are pairing silicon with other materials in order to enhance its properties. However, any imperfection in the microscopic structure of materials can severely affect the performance of the semiconductor devices. Researchers at Siltronic came to the ESRF to study the imperfections in silicon-germanium films.

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Company 

Siltronic

Challenge

Silicon, the workhorse of the semiconductor industry is coming up against its physical limitations. To continue driving the increased speed, miniaturization and functionality of microelectronics, manufacturers are pairing silicon with other materials in order to enhance its properties. However, any imperfection in the microscopic structure of materials can severely affect the performance of the semiconductor devices. This is even more critical when matching two different materials.

Sample

Siltronic wanted to study the imperfections in silicon-germanium films on 300mm silicon wafers, a promising substrate for sub-20nm Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) transistors (as used in computer microchips).

Solution

ID01’s scanning X-ray diffraction microscopy technique allows industrial researchers to detect the slightest imperfections in heterogeneous structures and thin films, even when stuck in different layers.

Benefits

The ESRF x-rays allowed Siltronic to establish a partial correlation between real-space morphology and structural properties of the sample at the micrometre scale. Results showed strain field fluctuations occurred due to the underlying dislocation network and that they diffused to the surface during growth.