Plasma Etching

Plasma etching is the process of cleaning or removing material from a substrate surface utilizing a plasma process. It can be conceptualized as a two- step procedure: 1) chemically reactive species are borne through the interaction between a feed gas and the plasma, 2) the interaction of these reactive species with the substrate and removal of material from the surface. Plasma etching is a universal tool which can develop patterns on virtually any material surface with high precision. These processes offer several advantages over other etching techniques:

  • It is a fast, clean, and dry process
  • Suits a wide variety of substrates
  • Provides great control over the profile
  • Delivers a controllable etch rate
  • Offers high selectivity

The majority of plasma etching tools consist of a RF driven (13.56 MHz) plasma source in capacitively or inductively coupled configuration, where the substrate is placed at an electrode that is either grounded or biased. The most widely used variants of plasma etching technology are: Reactive Ion Etching, Inductively Coupled Plasma Etching and Atomic Layer Etching (ALE).

Reactive Ion Etching

Reactive ion etching is the most common form of plasma etching where ions are accelerated by the negative DC self-bias potential developed in a capacitively coupled plasma reactor. The energetic ion bombardment to the substrate sitting on the powered electrode enables anisotropic etching.


Find out more about RIE here.

Inductively Coupled Plasma Etching

In this technique, one can achieve excellent surface profile control with low damage to the substrate. This is due to the ability of an inductively coupled plasma source to generate high density plasma at low pressures. In addition, independent bias on the substrate allows the control of ion energy, providing excellent results tailored to the specific process requirements.


Find out more about ICP Etching here.

Atomic Layer Etching

Atomic layer etching is a process which helps overcome the small feature size limitations of other techniques. It is a process which takes advantage of ion bombardment through plasma (CCP/ICP reactor) for layer – by – layer removal of material at the atomic scale.


Find out more about ALE here.

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