In integrated circuit manufacturing, the gaps between metal lines are a critical parameter, and polymer films are being evaluated as low k dielectric materials for VLSI. Desire to maximize the number of elements within a given area to increase clock speed and decrease power consumption have forced the gaps to become increasingly smaller. Currently, 0.25-0.18 micron line widths are the subject of much commercial interest. A line width of 0.25 microns is within a factor of 5 of the molecular dimension of most commercial polymers. Experiments have suggested polymer films slightly smaller than these dimensions may not have the expected bulk mechanical properties. This deviation from the expected behavior (i.e., Change in the glass transition temperature) would present significant technical challenges to the manufacturing and reliability of integrated circuits. These effects are extremely difficult to determine experimentally with requisite precision. Recently, an experimental technique, based on a highly modified quartz crystal microbalance, has been developed to study the mechanical properties of these ultra-thin polymer films with high precision. The experimental details and preliminary results from this recently developed state-of-the-art experimental technique will be presented.
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White, C.C., Wu, W.L. Studies of the Polymer Thin Film Glass Transition Temperature Monitored With the Complex Viscoelastic Cofficients. MRS Online Proceedings Library 543, 175–180 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-543-175