Patterning the desired narrow pitch at 10nm technology node and beyond, necessitates employment of either extreme ultra violet (EUV) lithography or multi-patterning solutions based on 193nm-immersion lithography. With enormous challenges being faced in getting EUV lithography ready for production, multi-patterning solutions that leverage the already installed base of 193nm-immersion-lithography are poised to become the industry norm for 10 and 7nm technology nodes. For patterning sub-40nm pitch line/space features, self-aligned quadruple patterning (SAQP) with resist pattern as the first mandrel shows significant cost as well as design benefit, as compared to EUV lithography or other multi-patterning techniques. One of the most critical steps in this patterning scheme is the resist mandrel definition step which involves trimming / reformation of resist profile via plasma etch for achieving appropriate pitch after the final pattern. Being the first mandrel, the requirements for the Line Edge Roughness (LER) / Line Width Roughness (LWR); critical dimension uniformity (CDU); and profile in 3-dimensions for the resist trim / reformation etch is extremely aggressive.
In this paper we highlight the unique challenges associated in developing resist trim / reformation plasma etch process for SAQP integration scheme and summarize our efforts in optimizing the trim etch chemistries, process steps and plasma etch parameters for meeting the mandrel definition targets. Finally, we have shown successful patterning of 30nm pitch patterns via the resist-mandrel SAQP scheme and its implementation for Si-fin formation at 7nm node.