Characterization of residues formed by anhydrous hydrogen fluoride etching of doped oxides

Anthony J. Muscat, Adam G. Thorsness, Gerardo Montaño-Miranda

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16 Scopus citations


The byproducts in residue layers produced after etching doped oxide films with anhydrous hydrogen fluoride (HF) in a commercial gas phase wafer processing tool operated at atmospheric pressure and 55 °C have been characterized using transmission Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Approximately 4000 Å was etched from the borophosphosilicate glass (BPSG), borosilicate glass (BSG), and phosphosilicate glass (PSG) films, creating a condensed layer on the oxide surfaces during etching. The primary etching products in the condensed layer on BPSG were found to be a mixture of boric acid [formula omitted] phosphoric acid [formula omitted] and water. The etching products in the residue on PSG were [formula omitted] and water. The reaction of boric oxide [formula omitted] crystallites with water to produce [formula omitted] is thermodynamically favorable and should react further to boron trifluoride [formula omitted] in the presence of HF. The formation of [formula omitted] rather than [formula omitted] in the etching residue on BPSG indicates that a kinetic limitation exists due to either the relatively low HF exposure used or the chemistry within the mixed acid film. The etching product in the residue on BSG, which was exposed to a higher HF flux, was primarily boron trifluoride dihydrate [formula omitted] The condensed layer supports the etching of the Si–O matrix by concentrating the HF and water reactants close to the surface, which explains the enhancement in the etching rate when a condensed layer is formed. The etching products identified by FTIR could also play a direct role in the etching reaction since hydroxyl groups on the acids can activate Si–O bonds similar to water and the Lewis acid [formula omitted] can attach to Si–O via the pair of electrons on the O atom.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1854-1861
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Vacuum Science and Technology A: Vacuum, Surfaces and Films
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • SiO

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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