Scatterometry-based methodologies for characterization of MRAM technology

Authored by: M. Medikondaa,*, D. Schmidta, M. Rizzoloa, M. Bretona, A. Duttaa, H. Wua, E. R. Evartsa, A. Ceplerb, R. Koretc, I. Turovetsc, D. Edelsteina | SPIE Advanced Lithography 2022, June 16, 2022


Magnetoresistive random-access memory (MRAM) technology and recent developments in fabrication processes have
shown it to be compatible with Si-based complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technologies. The
perpendicular spin transfer torque MRAM (STT-MRAM) configuration opened up opportunities for an ultra-dense
MRAM evolution and was most widely adapted for its scalability. Insertion of STT-MRAM in the back end of line (BEOL)
wiring levels has many advantages, including density, latency, and endurance with the promise of being comparable to
performance of dynamic random access memory technology (DRAM). There are several important parameters at multiple
process steps which require precise metrology for STT-MRAM integration. Inline metrology of the magnetic tunnel
junction (MTJ) pillar is vital to calibrate the magnetic read/write performance parameters. This work discusses various
challenges to monitor critical process steps for integrating STT-MRAM in advanced CMOS technologies and key
metrology solutions are presented. To precisely predict MRAM junction resistance early in the process flow, a machine
learning model was developed using scatterometry spectra collected after MTJ pillar formation and corresponding
resistance data from the end of line electrical test. This machine learning model utilizes metrology data from the pillar
formation process and can predict accurate device resistance values. Additionally, carefully monitoring the required
planarization process of an interlayer dielectric deposited after the MTJ pillar formation is critical to avoid subsequent
defects. Several modelling techniques are discussed and a new spectral interferometry-based technique, vertical travelling
scatterometry (VTS), is demonstrated as a solution for measurements on fully integrated device areas.