The reliability of Cu M1-V1-M2-V2-M3 interconnects with SiN and CoWP cap layers was investigated. Similar to previously reported results, the reliability of CoWP capped structures is much better than identical SiN capped structures. However, it was also observed that the reliability of CoWP capped interconnects was independent of the direction of electrical current flow. This phenomenon is different from what was observed for SiN capped structures, where M2 lines with electron current flow in the upstream configuration (“via-below”) have about three times larger median-time-to-failure than identical lines in the downstream configuration (“viaabove”). This is because the Cu/SiN interface is the preferential void nucleation site and provides the fastest diffusion pathway in such an architecture. Failure analysis has shown that fatal partially-spanned voids usually had formed directly below the via for “via-above” configuration, and fully-spanned voids occurred in the lines above the vias for “via-below” configuration.
On the other hand, failure analysis for CoWP-coated Cu structures showed that partiallyspanned voids below the via do not cause fatal failures in the downstream configuration. This is because the CoWP layer is conducting, and thus able to shunt current around the void. As a result, a large fully-spanning void is required to cause a failure, just like the upstream configuration. Thus the lifetime of an interconnect with a conducting cap layer is independent of whether the current is flowing upstream or downstream.
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Gan, C.L., Lee, C.Y., Cheng, C.K. et al. Effect of Current Direction on the Reliability of Different Capped Cu Interconnects. MRS Online Proceedings Library 863, B9.3 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-863-B9.3