Chemical Mechanical Polishing (CMP) as a semiconductor polishing technology has grown dramatically during the past decade. It has been a key enabling technology, facilitating the development of high density multilevel interconnects. Its widespread application has exceeded the growth of the scientific understanding.
Models for silicon dioxide polishing mechanisms have built upon the work originally done for glass polishing. Recent work has augmented our insight, but our understanding is far from complete. A quantitative picture of the basic interaction mechanisms for silicon dioxide polishing does not yet exist. The models for metal polishing are now an active area of investigation. Recent work has demonstrated that more work is need to adequate explain the CMP of metals. The metal CMP mechanisms appear to be substantially more complex than originally assumed.
The challenges for CMP have been to improve the performance of the technology, and increasingly this needs a foundation of scientific understanding to achieve the needed gains. We can expect that, as the scientific foundation grows, it will contribute significantly to manufacturing improvements as has been the case in other areas of semiconductor technology.