Ru Passivated and Ru Doped e-TaN surfaces as Combined Barrier and Liner Material for Copper Interconnects: A First Principles Study

<div>As the critical dimensions of transistors continue to be scaled down to facilitate improved performance and device speeds, new ultrathin materials that combine diffusion barrier and seed/liner properties are needed for copper interconnects at these length scales. Ideally, to facilitate coating of high aspect ratio structures, this alternative barrier+liner material should only consist of one or as few layers as possible. We studied TaN, the current industry standard for Cu diffusion barriers, and Ru, which is a</div><div>suitable liner material for Cu electroplating, to explore how combining these two materials in a barrier+liner material influences the adsorption of Cu atoms in the early stage of Cu film growth. To this end, we carried out first-principles simulations of the adsorption and diffusion of Cu adatoms at Ru-passivated and Ru-doped e-TaN(1 1 0) surfaces. For comparison, we also studied the behaviour of Cu and Ru adatoms at the low index surfaces of e-TaN, as well as the interaction of Cu adatoms with the (0 0 1) surface of hexagonal Ru. Our results confirm the barrier and liner properties of TaN and Ru, respectively while also highlighting the weaknesses of both materials. Ru passivated TaN was found to have improved binding with Cu adatoms as compared to the bare TaN and Ru surfaces.</div><div>On the other hand, the energetic barrier for Cu diffusion at Ru passivated TaN surface was lower than at the bare TaN surface which can promote Cu agglomeration. For Ru-doped TaN however, a decrease in Cu binding energy was found in addition to favourable migration of the Cu adatoms toward the doped Ru atom and unfavourable migration away from it or into the bulk. This suggests that Ru doping sites in the TaN surface can act as nucleation points for Cu growth with high migration barrier preventing agglomeration and allow electroplating of Cu. Therefore Ru-doped TaN is proposed as a candidate for a combined barrier+liner material with reduced thickness.</div>