Flashing the Nanospace – 2000°C within Milliseconds

Achieving high temperatures within shorter and shorter time is a key issue for the processing of future chip generations as well as for nanotechnology. In the Forschungszentrum Rossendorf (FZR) Europe´s first commercial equipment for the ultrafast thermal treatment of semiconductor and other materials within milliseconds has been developed. This remarkable achievement was done in close collaboration with two Saxon companies founded after the changes of 1989: the FHR Anlagenbau GmbH from Ottendorf-Okrilla, a medium enterprise producing equipment for the high-tech industry, and the nanoparc GmbH from Rossendorf-Dresden as a spin-off from the FZR, responsible for the marketing of research results in the field of silicon-based light emission and ion beam processing.

Dresden, Oktober 20, 2004. This Dresden-based equipment will be inaugurated on Thursday, October 21. It has been developed within the framework of a EU research project with a funding of about 2 Mio Euro under the coordination of the FZR. „Eleven partners from France, Germany, Greece, Spain, and the UK including renowned institutions as the Cambridge University and the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company EADS participate in the project. The goal of the project is an advanced method for the crystal growth of semiconductor films with a few nanometer thickness. The new method for which we hold a patent together with the nanoparc GmbH uses the new flash-lamp equipment for the melting of ultra-thin silicon carbide films on silicon wafers.”, says Dr. Wolfgang Skorupa, the leader of the project team at FZR. The ultrafast melting of the transition region between the two semiconductor materials leads to distinctly better matching of their crystal lattices.

Usually the high temperature treatment of semiconductor materials is, on one hand, needed for the removal of process induced defects, and, on the other hand, for the redistribution and introduction of foreign atoms within such crystalline semiconductor materials. With the further miniaturisation of the silicon chip technology towards the area of nanotechnology, shorter and shorter annealing times are needed to minimise the redistribution of foreign atoms used for doping. With the opportunity to perform ultrafast annealing treatments at temperatures up to 2000°C new challenges in nanotechnology can be explored.

Already more than 20 years pioneering development work was undertaken in the ZfK, as the predecessor of the FZR was called at that time, devoted to the problems of ultrafast annealing, but only based on simple home made laboratory equipment. Nevertheless, the rich experience gained during that time laid the foundations of the new commercial type machine. Also, the ZfK researchers worked in closed collaboration with the ZMD company as the leading Dresden chip technology development centre.

Today’s annealing treatments are usually done with conventional furnaces or halogen lamp annealers. While the latter reach annealing times down to 1 second, flash-lamps contain xenon gas for the formation of light pulses in the millisecond range. Such light is much more intense (in the blue wavelength range) than that of the halogen lamps. This is advantegous for many applications such as the photo flashlight as well as the headlights for more advanced cars. The electrical energy injected into such lamps is almost entirely transformed into light energy with only a small loss to heat. Additionally, the higher switching speed of such lamps is of importance.

The new equipment allows pulse durations down to 0.8 msec. As distinct from the standard annealing methods, which heat the whole substrate, flash-lamp annealing heats only a certain part below the irradiated surface while keeping the rest of the substrate cooler. “Nowadays there exists a strong need for research and development in the semiconductor industry from where we expect most of the potential customers”, says Dr. Thoralf Gebel managing director of the nanoparc GmbH.

There is not only a need for such advanced annealing methods in chip and nanotechnology but also in photovoltaics and other branches of materials processing. The “global players” of the semiconductor equipment industry from the US as well as other national and international companies “knocked on the door” of the FZR team to get informed about this development work, and even to perform test experiments on the available research tool.

The presentation of the new equipment for the ultrashort thermal treatment to the public is another step towards the development of the semiconductor industry in the “Saxon Silicon Valley”. Wolfgang Hentsch, one of the managing directors of the FHR Anlagenbau GmbH, claims, „An important challenge of the further collaboration with the colleagues of the FZR and the nanoparc GmbH will be the extension of the equipment for the processing of substrates with diameters of 300 mm and higher as required by the advanced chip industry but also by photovoltaics companies. FHR and its partners are highly interested to invest into this advanced technique as well as to market it.”

On the occasion of the inauguration of the equipment at the FZR the above-mentioned partners will hold a one-day workshop on Thursday, October 21, at the ROTECH Technology Centre. Guests from interested companies and research facilities are invited.

Contact at FZR:
Dr. Wolfgang Skorupa
Institute of Ion Beam Physics and Materials Research
Tel.: 0351 260-3612; Email: w.skorupa @hzdr.de

Contact at nanoparc GmbH:
Dr. Thoralf Gebel
nanoparc GmbH
Bautzner Landstr. 45, 01454 Dresden-Rossendorf
Tel.: 0351 269-5350 oder 0179 635 6606; Email: gebel@nanoparc.de

Contact at FHR Anlagenbau GmbH:
Wolfgang Hentsch
Am Hügel 2, 01458 Ottendorf-Okrilla