As the cell size of phase change memory devices decreases to less than 100 nm, the dry etch used for cell patterning becomes extremely critical because of its impact on the properties of memory cells. HBr gas has been known as the etchant that can minimize surface etching damage to GeSbTe-based phase change materials. However, the findings reported herein show that the HBr etch of CGeSbTe (CGST) films causes voids after annealing at temperatures below 400 °C due to the vaporization of volatile bromides (GeBr4, SbBr2, and TeBr2) that form when bromine diffuses during the etch. In this investigation, we report on the use of NH3 etchants to suppress the formation of volatile compounds and thereby eliminate void formation in CGST materials. The properties of NH3 etchants were compared to those of HBr etchants as a function of both etch rate and profiles. The effects of void suppression as observed in transmission electron microscopy images of as-etched CGST film after annealing indicate that phase change memory devices etched using an NH3 exhibited enhanced set cycles that were over 108 superior to results of HBr etchants by 2 orders of magnitude.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Surfaces and Interfaces
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Metals and Alloys
- Materials Chemistry