Thermally grown Si3N4 films in NH3 are known to have a higher dielectric constant and a higher N concentration than silicon oxynitrides, although they incorporate hydrogen atoms that induce hot electron carriers during subsequent high temperature processing. Further, a silicon nitride is difficult to grow over about 6 nm thick, due to self-limiting growth. One alternative is SiOxNy post-nitrided with NH3.
In this work, we study the scope of improvement of Ar annealed nitrided oxynitrides as a function of annealing temperature and duration. Secondary ion mass spectroscopy (SIMS) studies of the nitrogen and hydrogen profiles suggest increasing N and H removal with increasing annealing time and temperature. Electrical characterizations have been performed to determine the total charge (Qox) and interface trap (Dit) densities at different processing conditions, before and after the annealing step. Post-annealing steps are not found to yield improvements of the electrical properties of these dielectric films. Instead, sometimes Qox is even seen to increase (e.g., after a 30 min Ar anneal at 1000 °C). Therefore, an optimization of such annealing steps is essential in designing nanodielectrics with desired nitrogen amounts and N concentration profiles as well as in understanding related process-structure-function relationships.