The problem of low resistance ohmic contacts to silicon has been of considerable technological interest. In recent years this problem has received special attention owing to the effect of scaling in very-large-scale integration (VLSI) technology. The field of ohmic contacts to semiconductors comprises two independent parts. First there exists the material science aspect. The choice of a suitable metallization system, the proper semiconductor parameters and the method of the contact formation is not obvious. Then there is the question of the proper definition of the contact resistance and the way it is measured.
Several methods for contact resistance determination have been introduced in the past. All seem to have some drawbacks that either limit their usefulness or raise doubts as to their validity in certain situations. We shall discuss the two-, three- and four-terminal resistor methods of measurement. Relevant theoretical considerations will also be included.
For conventional integrated circuits with a moderate junction depth of 1–2 μm, aluminum is uniquely suited as a single-element metallization system. However, for VLSI applications it may become obsolete because of several well-defined metallurgical problems. Thus, other metallization systems have to be investigated. We shall briefly discuss some recent data on several other metallization systems. Finally, the problem of size effects on the contact resistance will be discussed. Recent experimental results suggest important clues regarding the development of alternative metallization systems for VLSI circuits and also point to revisions of estimates of achievable design rules.