Dutch researcher Michiel Blauw has described the physical limitations of the plasma-etching of deep, narrow microstructures in silicon. His results have led to such an improvement in the etching process that trenches with a depth more than 30 times their width can now be made. This is important for the production of sensitive sensors.
Blauw investigated fluorine-based plasma etching processes. A plasma with a high ion-density burns a small hole in silicon. Many applications require narrow, deep holes. Blauw studied how the plasma reacts with the silicon and how the sidewalls must be treated so as to make the trench as deep and as straight as possible.
The researcher came up with two ways to improve the profile of the trenches in the so-called Bosch process. During this process, a polymer layer ensures that the sidewalls are not etched by the plasma. However, the thin polymer layer is also deposited onto the bottom of the trench and this hinders the etching of deep, narrow trenches.
Sonja Jacobs | NWO
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