Unveiling Plasma Harmonics: The Fingerprint of Semiconductor Manufacturing 

Semiconductor manufacturing

In the intricate world of semiconductor manufacturing, where precision and reliability are paramount, understanding every aspect of the process is crucial. Among the myriad of techniques and technologies employed, one fascinating phenomenon stands out: plasma harmonics. Often considered the hidden fingerprint of the semiconductor manufacturing process, plasma harmonics play a vital role in ensuring the quality and efficiency of semiconductor devices. 

The plasma: Plasma, plays a central role in semiconductor fabrication. Plasma consisting of energetic electrons, ions and neutrals benefits to etch, deposit, or modify thin films on semiconductor wafers easily. Very often RF field such as 13.56 MHz is used to create plasma, but it also can be used for plasma diagnostics as RF field is very sensitive to the plasma properties. As the wave travels through plasma, RF harmonics are produced by plasma. These RF harmonics can serve as a diagnostic tool for understanding the intricacies of the process. 

The harmonics: At its core, plasma harmonics refer to the characteristic frequencies at which plasma waves resonate within the chamber. The frequency spectrum of the harmonics emitted by plasma is made up of integer multiplier of the driver frequency. This feature make these harmonics unique for every plasma system. However, other properties of harmonics like current, voltage amplitude and phases  are not arbitrary but are determined by the properties of the plasma and the geometry of the reactor. By analyzing the harmonics generated during plasma processing, engineers gain insights into various aspects of the manufacturing process including process control and optimization, fault detection, End point detection etc. 

Plasma diagnostics using its harmonics: One of the primary applications of plasma harmonics lies in plasma diagnostics. By monitoring the harmonics emitted during the process, engineers can assess the uniformity and consistency of plasma across the wafer. Discrepancies in harmonics indicate variations in plasma parameters, which could lead to defects in the final product. Identifying and rectifying these inconsistencies early in the manufacturing process is crucial for ensuring the reliability and performance of semiconductor devices. 

  1. Process control and optimization: Plasma harmonics offer a non-invasive means of process control and optimization. By adjusting process parameters such as gas flow rates, power levels, and chamber geometry, engineers can tune the plasma harmonics to achieve desired outcomes. This iterative optimization process not only enhances device performance but also increases manufacturing efficiency and yield. 
  2. Fault detection: Plasma harmonics serve as a diagnostic tool for identifying potential issues in the manufacturing equipment. Changes in harmonics can indicate wafer displacement, degradation or contamination of chamber components, allowing maintenance teams to intervene proactively and prevent costly downtime. 
  3. End point detection: Monitoring plasma harmonics is a promising technique to identify the completion of a chamber cleaning process or to indicate when the wafer is etched through. Tracking the change in harmonics indicates the clean and etch end Points. 

The significance of plasma harmonics extends beyond traditional semiconductor manufacturing. In the realm of nanofabrication, where precise control at the nanoscale is paramount, plasma harmonics offer insights into the fundamental processes governing material deposition and etching. By leveraging plasma harmonics, researchers can push the boundaries of nanotechnology, enabling the development of next-generation devices and materials. 

Impedans offers a variety of intelligent VI sensors to record, monitor and analyse the harmonics emitted from any plasma assisted process tool. These sensors feature a range of 5 fundamental and 15 harmonic frequencies. The key advantage of these sensors is the possibility to install these probes outside the processing chamber without disturbing the plasma. Octiv VI probes are inline sensors installed between matching network and the powered electrode while the Moduli RF spectrometer can be installed in the plasma facing glass window. Engineered with precision, these sensors are tailored for real-time process monitoring, incorporating pulse monitoring capabilities and waveform construction to meet the evolving demands of the semiconductor industry. 

Impedans is continually enhancing the capabilities of its VI probes to enable improved control and efficiency in plasma-based applications, thereby supporting the advancement of next-generation semiconductor technologies. 

To know more about Impedans VI probes and how we can help you better understand your plasma contact us at info@impedans.com