Solid-state wetting experiments were carried out to derive the work of adhesion (adhesion energy) of pertinent Cu/liner interfaces via the Young–Dupré equation using contact-angle measurements of the Cu equilibrium crystal shape on Ta and TaNx liners. Four types of liner surfaces were examined: untreated sputtered Ta (uSp-Ta), untreated sputtered TaNx (uSp-TaN), untreated atomic layer deposited (ALD) TaNx (uALD-TaN), and indium surfactant-treated ALD TaNx (tALD-TaN). All Cu-liner stacks were subsequently annealed at 600 °C for 48 h in a forming gas (95% Ar/5% H2) ambient. For Cu/uSp-Ta, the work of adhesion was found to be 2170 mJ/m2, corresponding to an average contact angle of 74°, while for Cu/uSp-TaN, the work of adhesion amounted to 1850 mJ/m2 for an average contact angle of 85°. Alternatively, the work of adhesion for Cu/uALD-TaN was determined to be 1850 mJ/m2, corresponding to an average contact angle of 85°, while for Cu/tALD-TaN, the work of adhesion was 2280 mJ/m2, at an average contact angle of 70°. These findings indicate that the highest degree of surface wetting occurs for the indium surfactant-treated ALD TaNx. It is thus suggested that surfactant treatment causes a reduction in the energy barrier to Cu nucleation, resulting in an enhancement in Cu wetting characteristics and a more uniform concentration of Cu nucleation sites. A critical potential outcome is the formation of atomically smooth Cu-liner interfaces with enhanced adhesion characteristics.
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van der Straten, O., Zhu, Y., Rullan, J. et al. Study of copper-refractory metal interfaces via solid-state wetting for emerging nanoscale interconnect applications. Journal of Materials Research 21, 255–262 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1557/jmr.2006.0040