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[0001] This disclosure relates to semiconductor integrated circuit (IC) devices having thin film resistors (TFRs).


[0002] Some IC devices include TFRs. A TFR generally has a thickness on the order of 0.1 pm or smaller, while thick film resistor is generally a thousand times thicker. Silicon Chromium (SiCr) and nickel chromium (NiCr) have been used for years as TFRs due to their high electrical resistance in thin film form, relatively low temperature coefficient of resistance (TCR), and the ability to reliably carry relatively high current density. TFRs may be laser trimmed, particularly for precision ICs, such as for setting an operational-amplifier’s offset voltage or a voltage regulator’s output voltage.

[0003] Laser trimming is accomplished by ablating away part of the TFR structure using a laser beam. As the TFR’s effective cross-sectional area is reduced, its resistance increases. The laser trimming is commonly performed in conjunction with wafer probing.


[0004] This Summary is provided to introduce a brief selection of disclosed concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description including the drawings provided. This Summary is not intended to limit the claimed subject matter's scope.

[0005] An IC includes a substrate having a semiconductor surface layer with functional circuitry for realizing at least one circuit function, with an inter level dielectric (ILD) layer on a metal layer that is above the semiconductor surface layer. A TFR including a TFR layer is on the ILD layer. At least one vertical metal wall is on at least two sides of the TFR. The metal walls include at least 2 metal levels coupled together by filled vias. The functional circuitry is outside the metal walls.


[0006] Reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings, which are not necessarily drawn to scale, wherein:

[0007] FIG. 1A depicts a cross-sectional view of a portion of an example IC having a TFR

including disclosed metal walls that at least partially enclose the TFR.

[0008] FIG. 1B is a top down view of a disclosed TFR having metal walls that at least partially enclose the by walling off 3 of 4 sides of the TFR.

[0009] FIG. 1C is a cross section view of IC shown having a TFR at least partially surrounding the 3 metal walls shown in FIG. 1B.

[0010] FIGs. 2A-2J are cross-sectional diagrams showing process progression for an example method of forming an IC having metal walls that at least partially enclose a TFR, according to an example aspect.


[0011] Example aspects are described with reference to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals are used to designate similar or equivalent elements. Illustrated ordering of acts or events should not be considered as limiting, as some acts or events may occur in different order and/or concurrently with other acts or events. Furthermore, some illustrated acts or events may not be required to implement a methodology in accordance with this disclosure.

[0012] Also, the terms "coupled to" or "couples with" (and the like) as used herein without further qualification are intended to describe either an indirect or direct electrical connection. Thus, if a first device "couples" to a second device, that connection can be through a direct electrical connection where there are only parasitics in the pathway, or through an indirect electrical connection via intervening items including other devices and connections. For indirect coupling, the intervening item generally does not modify the information of a signal but may adjust its current level, voltage level, and/or power level.

[0013] This Disclosure recognizes possible dielectric damage created during the laser trimming of a TFR can cause quality and reliability risks for the IC, such as increased leakage current, and reduced mechanical strength. Disclosed ICs feature TFRs that have at least partially surrounding metal walls that can reduce or eliminate the impact of laser trimming induced dielectric damage by containing the dielectric damage so that it does not extend beyond the metal walls. Disclosed metal walls comprise metal layers and filled vias (e.g., tungsten filled) that couple together at least 2 different metal levels.

[0014] FIG. 1A depicts a cross-sectional view of a portion of an example IC 100 having a TFR 290 including surrounding metal walls l08a and l08b that at least partially enclose the TFR 290. The IC 100 is formed on a substrate 102 such as a silicon wafer. The substrate 102 can comprise a bulk substrate material such as silicon, or an epitaxial layer on a bulk substrate material. Alternatively, the substrate can comprise silicon-germanium, other Group 4 material, or other semiconductor materials including III-V and II- VI compound semiconductor materials.

[0015] The IC 100 includes at least one TFR shown as TFR 290 that has its respective ends connected to a first node and a second node, respectively, on the IC 100. In the view shown in FIG. 1A the metal walls l08a and l08b are shown as double metal walls on positioned on two of the sides of the TFR 290.

[0016] TFR 290 can comprise chromium or doped polysilicon, and is shown on an Inter-level dielectric (ILD) layer l22a. TFR 290 is generally 1 nm to 100 nm thick, and generally has a sheet resistance of 100 to 1,000 ohms/sq. The TFR 290 is contacted by via lands shown as l26a.

[0017] A field oxide (FOX) layer or FOX region 112 is formed in the substrate 102 (e.g., near or adjacent to a top surface of the substrate 102) to laterally electrically isolate elements of the IC 100. A pre-metal dielectric (PMD) layer 114 is formed over the substrate 102 including over any FOX region 112 prior to the deposition of subsequent metal layers 118-1 to 118-N, where 118-1 can be called Metal 1 (Ml), and 118-N the top metal layer in the example being M5. The metal layers 118-1 to 118-N can comprise aluminum or copper, or their respective alloys. Contacts 116 may be disposed through the PMD layer 114 to provide electrical connections for IC components such as the metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) transistor 106 that includes a gate electrode 111 on a gate dielectric 110, and a source 107 and a drain 109. Although the metal walls l08a and l08b are shown are electrically isolated from the semiconductor surface layer of the substrate 102, there can be contacts for grounding the metal walls l08a and l08b to the substrate 102.

[0018] The plurality of metal levels 118-1 to 118-N disposed over the PMD layer 114 may include metal interconnects 120 including some connected to functional circuitry shown by the MOS transistor 106 and the metal walls l08a, l08b, as well as any additional components, devices, or circuit portions. ILD layers shown as l22a-e (e.g., dielectric materials or compositions comprised of silicon dioxide-based materials and the like) are disposed between the metal interconnects 120 in each metal level and between the respective metal levels.

[0019] Respective via levels 124 are disposed between the metal levels 118-1 to 118-N, wherein the example via levels 124 may include metal vias 126 providing a connection between metal interconnects 120 in adjacent levels. In one arrangement, the various dielectric layers may be formed in a similar process flow using similar materials. It should be understood that other dielectric materials for the ILD layers, such as low dielectric constant (K) materials, are within the scope of the instant example, for instance, FSG (Fluorinated Silicate Glass with k = 3.6), OSG (Organo-silicate Glass with k = 2.9) and ULK (Ultra-low k Dielectric material, with k = 2.5). The ILD layers may possibly include cap layers and etch stop layers of different dielectric materials, such as silicon nitride, and silicon carbide.

[0020] Disclosed metal walls l08a, l08b can be single metal walls, double metal walls or three or more metal walls along with corresponding via rows. The metal walls l08a, l08b can involve any or all of the metal layers on the IC 100, so that they can comprise aluminum or copper, or their respective alloys. The vias 126 used in the metal walls can include any via level or via levels combined. The width of the metal in disclosed metal walls l08a, l08b can be sized at a minimum for the metal layers, but is not limited to being the minimum size. The via 126 size can also be a minimum for vias on the IC, but is not limited to being the minimum via size. The metal on the metal levels for the metal walls l08a, l08b can comprise metal islands so that they are not connected to one another.

[0021] FIG. 1B is a top down view of a disclosed TFR 290 having metal walls shown as l08a, l08b and l08c that at least partially enclose the TFR 290 by walling off 3 of 4 sides of the TFR 290. The metal walls each comprise a plurality of metal islands shown as 158 that may comprise Ml, M2, M3, M4 and M5 connected by vias 126 that shown arranged in 2 rows that have the metal islands 158 staggered from one another. The metal arrangement on the top level (such as M5) has metal islands 158 that each have 2 or 3 metal vias 126 therein, and the metal walls can extend from Ml corresponding to 118-1 in FIG. 1A to a top metal level such as M5 corresponding to 118-N shown in FIG. 1A. The metal islands 158 can be are isolated from (shown in FIG. 1A) or instead connected to the substrate 102, are isolated from the functional circuity on the IC, are proximate to the TFR 290 to not have any intervening structure between the TFR 290 and the metal islands 158.

[0022] FIG. 1C is a cross section view of IC shown as 170 having a TFR 290 with the at least partially surrounding 3 metal walls l08a, l08b and l08c shown in FIG. 1B. Damage 167 to ILDs l22b, H2c and l22d shown as cracks from laser trimming is shown contained within the metal walls l08a and l08b.

[0023] Disclosed aspects include a method of fabricating ICs including TFRs having metal

walls that at least partially enclose the TFR. FIG. 2A shows the in-process IC after depositing an ILD layer shown as l22a on a substrate 102 including a semiconductor surface layer 103 having a plurality of IC die (e.g., a wafer) formed therein each including functional circuitry 180 comprising a plurality of interconnected transistors such as including MOS transistor 106 shown in FIG. 1A. Metal layer 118-1 is on PMD 114 and is under the ILD layer shown as l22a. The functional circuitry (see functional circuitry 180 in FIGs. 2A-2I described below) is generally formed in the substrate 102 before forming the TFRs. Functional circuitry as used herein realizes and carries out a desired functionality, such as that of a digital IC (e.g., digital signal processor) or analog IC (e.g., amplifier or power converter), and in one aspect a BiCMOS (MOS and Bipolar) IC. The capability of functional circuitry provided on a disclosed IC may vary, for example ranging from a simple device to a complex device. The specific functionality contained within functional circuitry is not of importance to disclosed ICs.

[0024] The ILD layer 222a can comprise a tetraethoxysilane TEOS-derived silicon oxide layer. However, other dielectric films can also be used for disclosed ILD layers including deposited silicon oxides such as comprising an organosilicate glass (OSG), a low-k dielectric (i.e., a smaller dielectric constant relative to silicon dioxide), a doped dielectric layer such as a fluorine-doped silica glass (FSG), or a SiN layer or its variants (e.g., SiON).

[0025] FIG. 2B shows the in-process IC after depositing a TFR layer 161 on the ILD layer l22a. The deposition process can comprise a direct current (DC) or radio frequency (RF) sputtering process. The TFR layer 161 can comprise SiCr or its alloys such as carbon containing including SiCCr, SiCOCr where C can be 1 atomic % to 50 atomic %, or NiCr or its alloys such as NiCrFe 61% Ni, 15% Cr, 24% Fe (all atomic %s), or doped polysilicon. The thickness of the TFR layer 161 is generally 1 nm to 50 nm, such as 2 nm to 10 nm, or about 3 to 5 nm in one specific aspect.

[0026] FIG. 2C shows the in-process IC after depositing a hardmask layer shown as HM 162 (e.g., a TEOS derived HM layer) and then forming a pattern on the HM layer 162. Photoresist 163 can be used to form a pattern. This deposition process can comprise low pressure CVD (LPCVD) at a pressure of about 300 mTorr and at a temperature of about 700°C for a TEOS-based deposition process. The HM layer 162 thickness range can be 20 A to 300 A.

[0027] FIG. 2D shows the in-process IC after etching the HM layer 162 and TFR layer 161 stopping in the ILD layer l22a to form at least one TFR 290 that comprises the TFR layer, and

then stripping of the PR layer 163. The etch gases for HM layer etch in the case of silicon oxide can be Ar and CF4 with optional Cl2. The etch gases used for etching the TFR layer 161 generally includes flowing 02, Cl2, and at least one carbon-halogen gas. For example, 02 Cl2 and CF4 with optional Ar may be used for etching SiCr. In addition other gasses may also be used for etching the TFR layer such as CHF3, or CH2F2 as a replacement for or in addition to CF , and/or N2 used as well.

[0028] FIG. 2E shows the in-process IC after the deposition of a second ILD layer shown as ILD layer l22b. The ILD layer l22b generally comprises a deposited silicon oxide. FIG. 2F shows the in-process IC after forming vias 126 through the ILD l22b and HM layer 162 to expose contacts on the TFR layer 161, and then depositing and patterning another metal layer shown by example as a thick SiCr layer 270 (being thick as compared to TFR layer 161, such as at least 10 times thicker, e.g., 50A to 600 A thick). The thick SiCr layer 270 can be called the TFR head which is shown formed in the ILD layer l22b. A plasma etch or a wet etch can be used to form vias 126 in the ILD layer l22b for the TFR heads. Metal interconnects 120 contact the vias 126 and the thick SiCr layer 270.

[0029] FIG. 2G shows the in-process IC after depositing metal layer 118-2 (M2) and then defining it, depositing an ILD layer l22c, and forming vias 126 in the ILD layer l22c. FIG. 2H shows the in-process IC after depositing metal layer 118-3 (M3) and defining it, depositing an ILD layer l22d, and forming vias 126 in the ILD layer l22d. FIG. 21 shows the in-process IC after depositing metal layer 118-4 (M4) and defining it, depositing an ILD layer l22e, and forming vias 126 in the ILD layer l22e. FIG. 2J shows the in-process IC after depositing metal layer 1 18-5 (M5) and defining it on the vias 126 in the ILD layer l22e.

[0030] The IC can then then be completed by known conventional back end of the line (BEOL) processing comprising optionally forming one or more additional metal levels including filled vias thereon to add to the metal walls to optionally include metal levels up to the top metal level. The top metal layer as the other metal layers can comprise aluminum or copper, or their respective alloys. Passivation overcoat (PO) then generally follows, followed by patterning the PO. The PO layer comprises at least one dielectric layer such as silicon oxide, silicon nitride, or SiON. As noted below, in the final IC, the TFRs 290 are connected within the functional circuitry 180, such as through M2 connections that through vias and contacts reach nodes within the circuitry in the semiconductor surface layer 103.

[0031] Disclosed aspects can be used to form semiconductor die that may be integrated into a variety of assembly flows to form a variety of different devices and related products. The semiconductor die may include various elements therein and/or layers thereon, including barrier layers, dielectric layers, device structures, active elements and passive elements including source regions, drain regions, bit lines, bases, emitters, collectors, conductive lines, conductive vias, etc. Moreover, the semiconductor die can be formed from a variety of processes including bipolar, Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT), CMOS, BiCMOS and MEMS.

[0032] Those skilled in the art to which this Disclosure relates will appreciate that many other aspects are possible within the scope of the claimed invention, and further additions, deletions, substitutions and modifications may be made to the described aspects without departing from the scope of this Disclosure.