Rapid trench initiated recrystallization and stagnation in narrow Cu interconnect lines
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SubjectRecrystallization; Interconnects; Microstructure; Transmission Electron Microscopy; Thermodynamics
Understanding and ultimately controlling the self-annealing of Cu in narrow interconnect lines has remained a top priority in order to continue down-scaling of back-end of the line interconnects. Recently, it was hypothesized that a bottom-up microstructural transformation process in narrow interconnect features competes with the surface-initiated overburden transformation. Here, a set of transmission electron microscopy images which captures the grain coarsening process in 48 nm lines in a time resolved manner is presented, supporting such a process. Grain size measurements taken from these images have demonstrated that the Cu microstructural transformation in 48 nm interconnect lines stagnates after only 1.5 h at room temperature. This stubborn metastable structure remains stagnant, even after aggressive elevated temperature anneals, suggesting that a limited internal energy source such as dislocation content is driving the transformation. As indicated by the extremely low defect density found in 48 nm trenches, a rapid recrystallization process driven by annihilation of defects in the trenches appears to give way to a metastable microstructure in the trenches.