PatentDe  


Dokumentenidentifikation EP1324393 07.08.2003
EP-Veröffentlichungsnummer 1324393
Titel Verfahren zur Herstellung einer nichtflüchtigen Speicherzelle und entsprechende Speicherzelle
Anmelder STMicroelectronics S.r.l., Agrate Brianza, Mailand/Milano, IT
Erfinder Allessandri Mauro, 20059 Vimercate (Milano), IT;
Crivelli, Barbara, 20155 Milano, IT;
Zonca, Romina, 20067 Paullo (Milano), IT
Vertreter derzeit kein Vertreter bestellt
Vertragsstaaten AT, BE, CH, CY, DE, DK, ES, FI, FR, GB, GR, IE, IT, LI, LU, MC, NL, PT, SE, TR
Sprache des Dokument EN
EP-Anmeldetag 28.06.2002
EP-Aktenzeichen 020144085
EP-Offenlegungsdatum 02.07.2003
Veröffentlichungstag im Patentblatt 07.08.2003
IPC-Hauptklasse H01L 29/51

Beschreibung[en]
Field of Application

The present invention relates to a manufacturing process of a semiconductor non-volatile memory cell, and corresponding memory cell.

The invention relates specifically to a manufacturing process of a non-volatile memory cell, being integrated in a semiconductor substrate and having a gate region comprising a floating gate region and a control gate region, which process comprises the steps of:

  • depositing a first dielectric layer onto said semiconductor substrate;
  • depositing a first semiconductor layer onto said first dielectric layer to form said floating gate region of said gate region; and
  • defining said floating gate region of said gate region in said first semiconductor layer.

The invention also relates to a memory cell, being integrated in a semiconductor substrate, comprising at least a source region and a drain region separated by a channel region, and having a gate region formed in said channel region, which gate region is isolated from said semiconductor substrate by a first dielectric layer formed on said semiconductor substrate, said gate region comprising a floating gate region and a control gate region that are isolated from each other by an interpoly dielectric layer, with said floating gate region comprising a semiconductor layer.

The invention applies to the manufacture of semiconductor memory devices, such as non-volatile flash EEPROMs (Electrically Erasable/Programmable Read Only Memories). As is well known, flash EEPROMs can be erased with a single operation performed simultaneously on all the memory cells.

More particularly, the invention applies to the manufacture of a non-volatile memory cell, e.g. of the flash EEPROM type, having an interpoly dielectric layer of reduced electrical thickness, for a given number of interpoly dielectric layers as provided in the state of the art, and it ensures proper performance of the device as regards its electrical characteristics and retention of a logic state programmed in it.

The invention further relates to a process for manufacturing, either to a very large integration scale or single wafer scale, flash EEPROM non-volatile memory devices exhibiting the above features.

Prior Art

As is well known in this technical field, re-programmable non-volatile memory cells integrated in a semiconductor substrate, particularly flash EEPROM cells, comprise a floating gate FET (Field-Effect Transistor), and an interpoly dielectric layer provided between the floating gate region and the control gate region to function as an insulator layer of charges stored into the floating gate region. The absence or presence of charges in the floating gate region sets the logic state of the memory cell, usually by a binary code of 0 or 1.

The interpoly dielectric layer can be formed from different materials in a number of different ways. A common technique is that of successively depositing three dielectric layers onto the floating gate region, the latter being comprised conventionally of an amorphous or polycrystalline silicon layer (polysilicon layer) deposited onto a thin layer of silicon oxide, known as the tunnel oxide, to isolate the gate region from the semiconductor substrate. The resulting stack dielectric layer usually comprises a first silicon oxide layer, a second silicon nitride layer, and a third silicon oxide layer. The resulting dielectric is known by the ONO acronym (Oxide Nitride Oxide), or as the interpoly ONO dielectric.

Within the ONO layer, the capability of the cell to retain its logic state is provided essentially by the two layers of silicon oxide. The nitride layer is used to promote the integration of the three-stack layer to the device process flow. The interpoly dielectric forming step is followed by treatments with oxidising species (O2, O, OH, H2O). The nitride layer is impervious to said oxidising species, and is therefore used as a barrier to stop them from diffusing through to the floating gate region. Thus, the nitride layer prevents further oxidation of the floating gate region and consequent alteration of the interpoly dielectric layer thickness during subsequent device manufacturing steps. In the state of the art, the need to maintain a nitride layer of sufficient thickness to function as a barrier against later thermal treatment, and the need to keep the ONO layer retention properties unchanged, inhibit reducing the overall electrical thickness of the three-stack layer to less than 14 nm. Alternatively, with memory cells that require no particularly thin interpoly dielectric and/or are subjected to no post-formation oxidising treatments, a single silicon oxide layer (single oxide interpoly) may be used instead of the ONO layer.

The thickness of the interpoly dielectric layer is co-responsible, irrespective of its composition and manufacturing method, for the capacitive coupling of the memory cell. Thus, additionally to retaining the logic state over time, it contributes to set the program and erase parameters.

The extant demand for miniaturization of electronic devices and for lower power usage, involving lower device bias voltages, requires that the thickness of the active dielectric layers be reduced at no performance loss.

The underlying technical problem of this invention is to provide a memory cell manufacturing process, whereby the EOT (Equivalent Oxide Thickness) of the dielectric layer between the floating gate and control gate regions can be reduced maintaining the same fisic thickness, and good capacitive coupling of the floating and control gate regions achieved.

Summary of the Invention

The resolvent idea of this invention is to provide the dielectric layer between the floating and control gate regions as a layer having a high dielectric constant value. Advantageously, this dielectric layer having a high dielectric constant value is formed by conventional and unconventional deposition techniques for non-volatile memories.

For easier process integration and improved electric properties of this dielectric layer having a high dielectric constant value, additional dielectric layers are deposited, between this layer having a high dielectric constant value and the floating and control gate regions.

Based on this idea, the technical problem is solved by a manufacturing process as previously indicated and as defined in the characterizing portion of Claim 1.

The problem is further solved by a memory cell as previously indicated and as defined in the characterizing portion of Claim 23.

The features and advantages of the manufacturing process and the memory cell according to the invention will be apparent from the following description of embodiments thereof, given by way of non-limitative examples with reference to the accompanying drawings.

Brief Description of the Drawings

In the drawings:

  • Figures 1 and 2 are schematic enlarged vertical cross-section views of a first embodiment of a portion of a memory cell during a sequence of the processing steps according to the invention;
  • Figures 3 and 4 are schematic enlarged vertical cross-section views of a second embodiment of a portion of a memory cell during a sequence of the processing steps according to the invention;
  • Figures 5 and 6 are schematic enlarged vertical cross-section views of a third embodiment of a portion of a memory cell during a sequence of the processing steps according to the invention;
  • Figures 7 to 9 are schematic enlarged vertical cross-section views of a fourth embodiment of a portion of a memory cell during a sequence of the processing steps according to the invention;
  • Figures 10 to 17 are schematic enlarged vertical cross-section views of a fifth embodiment of a portion of a memory cell during a sequence of the processing steps according to the invention.

Detailed Description

With reference to the drawing views, a gate region of a non-volatile memory cell during a sequence of processing steps according to this invention is shown generally at 10 in schematic form.

The process steps and structures to be described are not exhaustive of an integrated circuit manufacturing process, it being possible for this invention to be implemented in conjunction with the integrated circuit manufacturing techniques currently employed in the industry, and only such process steps as are necessary to an understanding of this invention will be described hereinafter.

The cross-sectional views of an integrated circuit during its manufacturing steps are not drawn to scale but rather to enhance significant features of the invention.

A non-volatile memory cell integrated in a semiconductor substrate comprises source and drain regions that are formed in the semiconductor substrate and separated from each other by a channel region on which a gate region is formed. The gate region is isolated from the semiconductor substrate by an oxide layer known as the tunnel oxide. The gate region consists of a first region, being the floating gate region, and a second region, being the control gate region, which regions are isolated from each other by a dielectric layer known as the interpoly dielectric.

This invention concerns the formation of the gate region 10.

A layer 1 of a semiconductor material, such as polysilicon or polysilicon alpha silicon, is formed over a semiconductor substrate, and is isolated from this substrate by a tunnel oxide layer, not shown. This polysilicon layer 1 is used for forming the floating gate region of the memory cell.

The floating gate region is then defined conventionally in the polysilicon layer 1 by exposing a mask of a photo-sensitive material, and subsequently etching away the polysilicon layer 1, this being followed by removal of the mask of photo-sensitive material.

Advantageously, a treatment for cleaning the surface of said polysilicon layer 1 with chemical solution is provided.

The treatment is provided with chemical solution, using either aqueous solutions to form a layer of native oxide, not shown, over the polysilicon layer, or chemical treatment with hydrofluoric acid to passivate the surface of the polysilicon layer 1 with Si-H terminations, e.g. in a HF-last process. Advantageously, the treatment comprising hydrofluoric acid is additivated chelate agents, in liquid or vapor phase, to provide a cleaner surface of the polysilicon layer 1.

An interpoly dielectric layer 11 is formed over the floating gate region. According to this invention, the interpoly dielectric layer 11 comprises a layer 5 having a high dielectric constant.

Advantageously, the dielectric layer 5 with a high dielectric constant is a layer having a higher dielectric constant than 10. The dielectric layer 5 with a high dielectric constant is formed by a single layer of metal aluminate MAlxOy or of metal silicate (MSixOy), for example.

Advantageously, the dielectric layer 5 comprises transition metal compounds, e.g. of hafnium or zirconium.

Advantageously, the layer 5 with a high dielectric constant is a stack layer, also known as nano-laminate, comprising a stack of very thin layers (e.g. less than 25 Angstroms thick) of identical or different materials whose dielectric constant is higher than or equal to 3.9. The resulting layer 5 has a higher dielectric constant than 10.

Advantageously in this invention, the dielectric layer 5 with a high dielectric constant is deposited by ALCVD (Atomic Layer Chemical Vapor Deposition), MOCVD (Metal-Organic Chemical Vapor Deposition), LPCVD (Low-Pressure Chemical Vapor Deposition), PECVD (Plasma-Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition), or using PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) or MBE (Molecular Beam Epitaxy) techniques, in either batch or single-wafer systems.

The thickness of the dielectric layer 5 is selected between 0.5 and 14 nm, as measured in terms of EOT equivalent electrical thickness. The physical thickness of the dielectric layer 5, e.g. with a dielectric constant of 10, would range between 1.2 and 36 nm.

Advantageously, after forming the dielectric layer 5, the layer 5 is densified by thermal treatment (using either nitrogen or steam or oxygen, N2 or H2O or O2), in either batch or single-wafer systems.

The gate region 10 of the memory cell is then finished conventionally by forming the control gate region in the dielectric layer 5.

This control gate region is formed as a second layer of a semiconductor material such as polysilicon, not shown.

A second embodiment according to the invention is shown in Figures 3 and 4.

Elements having the same construction and function as in the first embodiment of Figure 2 are denoted for clarity with the same reference numerals, and no further described.

In particular, in the second embodiment of the invention, the interpoly dielectric layer 11 comprises the dielectric layer 5 with a high dielectric constant and another dielectric layer 3, known as the bottom dielectric. The bottom dielectric layer 3 is to isolate the dielectric layer 5 having a high dielectric constant from the floating gate region 1.

Advantageously, the bottom dielectric layer 3 is silicon dioxide, or a layer of a dielectric material whose dielectric constant is comprised in the range of 3.9 to 10.

The thickness of the bottom dielectric layer 3 can be selected in the range of 0.5 to 6.0 nm, it being understood that such values are measured in terms of EOT (Equivalent Oxide Thickness).

In one embodiment, the bottom dielectric layer 3 is an alumina layer, Al2O3, whose dielectric constant is comprised in the 9 to 10 range. The bottom dielectric layer 3 is CVD formed in either batch or single-wafer systems.

The gate region 10 of the memory cell is then finished conventionally by forming the control gate region in the dielectric layer 5.

A third embodiment according to the invention is shown in Figures 5 and 6.

Elements having the same construction and function as in the embodiment of Figure 2 are denoted for clarity with the same reference numerals, and no further described.

In particular, in the third embodiment of the invention, the interpoly dielectric layer 11 comprises the dielectric layer 5 with a high dielectric constant and an additional dielectric layer 7, known as the top dielectric.

In particular, the dielectric layer 5 with a high dielectric constant is formed over the polysilicon layer 1, and the top dielectric layer 7 is then formed over the dielectric layer 5 having a high dielectric constant. The top dielectric layer 7 may be a silicon dioxide layer or a layer of a dielectric material whose dielectric constant lies in the range of 3.9 to 10.

The thickness of the top dielectric layer 7 can be selected in the range of 0.5 to 10 nm, it being understood that such values are measured in terms of EOT.

Advantageously, the top dielectric layer 7 is a layer of aluminum oxide or alumina, Al2O3, having a dielectric constant in the 8 to 10 range. The top dielectric layer 7 is CVD formed in either batch or single-wafer systems.

Advantageously, the top dielectric layer 7 is then densified by thermal treatment (using either nitrogen or steam or oxygen, N2 or H2O or O2).

The gate region 10 of the memory cell is then finished conventionally by forming the control gate region in the dielectric layer 7.

A fourth embodiment according to the invention is shown in Figures 7 to 9.

Elements having the same construction and function as in the embodiments of Figures 4 and 6 are denoted for clarity with the same reference numerals, and no further described.

In particular, in the fourth embodiment of the invention, the interpoly dielectric layer 11 comprises of the bottom dielectric layer 3 and the top dielectric layer 7. Thus, the dielectric layer 5 with a high dielectric constant is advantageously encapsulated between said layers.

By providing the bottom dielectric layer 3 and the top dielectric layer 7, the surface interfacing the dielectric layer 5 having a high dielectric constant with the semiconductor layers that form the gate region 10 can be advantageously improved.

The gate region 10 of the memory cell is then finished conventionally by forming the control gate region in the dielectric layer 7.

A fifth embodiment of the gate region 10 according to the invention is shown in Figures 10 to 17.

Elements having the same construction and function as in the previously described embodiments are denoted for clarity with the same reference numerals, and no further described.

In particular, in this embodiment of the invention, the interpoly dielectric layer 11 comprises a barrier layer, such as a layer of silicon nitride. This barrier layer is formed either in the floating gate region or over one of the layers that comprise the interpoly dielectric layer 11, as described in detail herein below.

In particular, a layer 2 of silicon nitride is formed over the polysilicon layer 1 in the embodiment of Figure 10. This layer 2 can be formed by LPCVD (Low-Pressure Chemical Vapor Deposition), RTCVD (Rapid Thermal Chemical Vapor Deposition), PECVD (Plasma-Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition), or by directly nitriding the surface (as by plasma or thermal nitriding) in either batch or single-wafer systems.

The silicon nitride layer 2 functions to inhibit diffusion of any oxidising species (O2, O, OH, H2O), as may be present in the gas mixtures employed for subsequent thermal treatments to the step of forming the interpoly dielectric layer.

Such oxidising species can also originate from the subsequent process of forming, and optionally densifying, the interpoly dielectric layers.

Advantageously, the nitride layer 2 is provided as a very thin layer (e.g. about 3 nm thick) in order to keep the overall thickness of the interpoly dielectric layer 11 low.

According to the invention, the interpoly dielectric layer 11 is formed over the nitride layer 2.

A bottom dielectric layer 3 is then formed over the nitride layer 2.

The bottom dielectric layer 3 is advantageously formed as in the embodiment of Figure 3.

Advantageously, if the nitride layer 2 has not been formed over the polysilicon layer 1, an ultra-thin layer 4 of silicon nitride is now formed over the bottom dielectric layer 3, as shown in Figure 13. This layer 4 of silicon nitride may be formed in the same way as the previous layer 2 of silicon nitride.

According to the invention, a dielectric layer 5 having a high dielectric constant, in particular higher than 10, is formed over the ultra-thin nitride layer 4. This dielectric layer 5 with a high dielectric constant has the same characteristics as the dielectric layer 5 with a high dielectric constant of the previously described embodiments, and may be densified as in the embodiment of Figure 2.

Advantageously, if no nitride layers have been provided, the gate region 10 of the memory cell according to the invention is formed by depositing an ultra-thin layer 6 of silicon nitride onto said dielectric layer 5 with a high dielectric constant, as shown in Figure 15. This layer 6 of silicon nitride may be formed the same way as the silicon nitride layers 2 and 4 previously described.

A top dielectric layer 7 is then formed over the ultra-thin layer 6, if the ultra-thin layer 6 is provided. The top dielectric layer 7 may be a layer of silicon dioxide or a layer of a dielectric material whose dielectric constant value is in the range of 3.9 to 10. The interpoly dielectric layer 11 is thus completed.

The top dielectric layer 7 is advantageously formed as in the embodiment of Figure 6.

Advantageously, if no nitride layers have been provided before or inside the interpoly dielectric layer 11, an ultra-thin layer 8 of silicon nitride is now deposited onto the top dielectric layer 7, as shown in Figure 17. This layer 8 of silicon nitride may be formed in the same way as the silicon nitride layers 2, 4, 6 previously described.

Advantageously, this ultra-thin layer 8 of silicon nitride is densified by thermal treatment (using either nitrogen or steam or oxygen, N2 or H2O or O2).

The gate region 10 of the memory cell is then finished conventionally by forming the control gate region in the interpoly dielectric layer 11.

Nothing prevents that a barrier layer of silicon nitride could be used in the previously described embodiments of the invention as well.

To summarize, the process of this invention allows reduced equivalent electrical thickness dimensions of the interpoly dielectric layer 11 to be achieved, with the overall thickness of the latter unchanged or increased, using high dielectric constant layers. This allows an electrical thickness of up to 5 equivalent nanometers, i.e. 50 nm technologies, to be achieved.

Particularly by using materials of very high dielectric constant (K ≤ 50), the selection of the relative thickness of the dielectric layers 3, 5, 7, comprising the proposed stack construction for the interpoly dielectric layer 11 of the gate region 10, is made more flexible and modular.


Anspruch[en]
  1. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell, being integrated in a semiconductor substrate and having a gate region (10) comprised of a floating gate region and a control gate region, the process comprising the steps of:
    • depositing a first dielectric layer onto said semiconductor substrate;
    • depositing a first semiconductor layer (1) onto said first dielectric layer to form said floating gate region of said gate region (10); and
    • defining said floating gate region of said gate region (10) in said first semiconductor layer (1);
    characterized in that it further comprises the step of:
    • depositing a second dielectric layer (5), having a higher dielectric constant than 10, onto said first semiconductor layer (1).
  2. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to Claim 1, characterized in that it comprises the following step:
    • depositing a third layer (3) of dielectric layer between said first semiconductor layer (1) and said second dielectric layer (5).
  3. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to either Claim 1 or 2, characterized in that it comprises the following step:
    • depositing a fourth layer (7) of dielectric layer onto said second dielectric layer (5).
  4. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to Claim 1, characterized in that said second dielectric layer (5) is a single layer of a metal aluminate (MAlxOy).
  5. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to Claim 1, characterized in that said second dielectric layer (5) is a single layer of a metal silicate (MSixOy).
  6. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to either Claim 4 or 5, characterized in that said dielectric layer (5) comprises transition metals.
  7. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to Claim 6, characterized in that said transition metals are hafnium or zirconium.
  8. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to Claim 1, characterized in that said second dielectric layer (5) consists of plurality of layers of different materials having a dielectric constant higher than or equal to 3.9.
  9. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to Claim 1, characterized in that said second dielectric layer (5) is formed by a CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition) technique.
  10. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to Claim 1, characterized in that said second dielectric layer (5) is formed by a PVD (Physical Chemical Deposition) technique.
  11. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to Claim 1, characterized in that said second dielectric layer (5) is formed by an MBE (Molecular Beam Epitaxy) deposition technique.
  12. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to either Claim 2 or 3, characterized in that the dielectric constant of said third (3) and fourth (7) dielectric layers is in the range of 3.9 to 10.
  13. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to either Claim 2 or 3, characterized in that said third (3) and fourth (7) dielectric layers comprise a layer of aluminum oxide.
  14. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to either Claim 2 or 3, characterized in that said third (3) and fourth (7) dielectric layers are formed by a CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition) technique.
  15. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to Claim 1, characterized in that a barrier layer (2) is formed over said first semiconductor layer (1).
  16. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to Claim 2, characterized in that a barrier layer (4) is formed over said third dielectric layer (3).
  17. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to Claim 1, characterized in that a barrier layer (6) is formed over said second dielectric layer (5).
  18. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to Claim 3, characterized in that a barrier layer (8) is formed over said fourth dielectric layer (7).
  19. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to any of Claims 15 to 18, characterized in that said barrier layer (2,4,6,8) is a layer of silicon nitride.
  20. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to Claim 19, characterized in that said silicon nitride layer (2,4,6,8) is formed by a CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition) technique.
  21. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to Claim 19, characterized in that said silicon nitride layer (2,4,6,8) is formed by direct surface nitriding (using a plasma or a thermal nitriding technique).
  22. A process for manufacturing a non-volatile memory cell according to either Claim 1 or 3, characterized in that said second (5) and fourth (7) dielectric layers are subjected to densifying treatment.
  23. A memory cell integrated in a semiconductor substrate having at least a source region and a drain region separated by a channel region, and having a gate region (10) formed on said channel region and isolated from said semiconductor substrate by a first dielectric layer formed on said semiconductor substrate, said gate region (10) comprising a floating gate region and a control gate region that are isolated from each other by an interpoly dielectric layer (11), with said floating gate region (10) comprising a semiconductor layer (1); characterized in that said interpoly dielectric layer (11) comprises a second dielectric layer (5) having a higher dielectric constant than 10.
  24. A cell according to Claim 23, characterized in that said interpoly dielectric layer (11) comprises a third dielectric layer (3) intervening between said second dielectric layer (5) and said first semiconductor layer (1).
  25. A cell according to either Claim 23 or 24, characterized in that said interpoly dielectric layer (11) comprises a fourth dielectric layer (7) formed over said second dielectric layer (5).
  26. A cell according to Claim 23, characterized in that said second dielectric layer (5) is a single layer of a metal aluminate (MAlxOy).
  27. A cell according to Claim 23, characterized in that said second dielectric layer (5) is a single layer of a metal silicate (MSixOy).
  28. A cell according to either Claim 26 or 27, characterized in that said dielectric layer (5) comprises transition metals.
  29. A cell according to Claim 28, characterized in that said transition metals are hafnium or zirconium.
  30. A cell according to Claim 23, characterized in that said second dielectric layer (5) consists of plural layers of different materials having a dielectric constant higher than or equal to 3.9.
  31. A cell according to either Claim 24 or 25, characterized in that the dielectric constant of said third (3) and fourth (7) dielectric layers is in the range of 3.9 to 10.
  32. A cell according to Claim 31, characterized in that said third (3) and fourth (7) dielectric layers are formed from a layer of aluminum oxide.
  33. A cell according to Claim 23, characterized in that said interpoly dielectric layer (11) includes a barrier layer (2,4,6,8).
  34. A cell according to Claim 33, characterized in that said barrier layer (2,4,6,8) is a layer of silicon nitride.






IPC
A Täglicher Lebensbedarf
B Arbeitsverfahren; Transportieren
C Chemie; Hüttenwesen
D Textilien; Papier
E Bauwesen; Erdbohren; Bergbau
F Maschinenbau; Beleuchtung; Heizung; Waffen; Sprengen
G Physik
H Elektrotechnik

Anmelder
Datum

Patentrecherche

Patent Zeichnungen (PDF)

Copyright © 2008 Patent-De Alle Rechte vorbehalten. eMail: info@patent-de.com