Date of Award

Fall 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering - (Ph.D.)


Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Durgamadhab Misra

Second Advisor

Leonid Tsybeskov

Third Advisor

Marek Sosnowski

Fourth Advisor

George E. Georgiou

Fifth Advisor

Kandabara Tapily


Hafnium-based high-x dielectric materials have been successfully used in the industry as a key replacement for SiO2 based gate dielectrics in order to continue CMOS device scaling to the 22-nm technology node. Further scaling according to the device roadmap requires the development of oxides with higher x values in order to scale the equivalent oxide thickness (EOT) to 0.7 nm or below while achieving low defect densities. In addition, next generation devices need to meet challenges like improved channel mobility, reduced gate leakage current, good control on threshold voltage, lower interface state density, and good reliability. In order to overcome these challenges, improvements of the high-x film properties and deposition methods are highly desirable.

In this dissertation, a detail study of Zr and Al incorporated HfO2 based high-κ dielectrics is conducted to investigate improvement in electrical characteristics and reliability. To meet scaling requirements of the gate dielectric to sub 0.7 nm, Zr is added to HfO2 to form Hf1-xZrxO2 with x=0, 0.31 and 0.8 where the dielectric film is deposited by using various intermediate processing conditions, like (i) DADA: intermediate thermal annealing in a cyclical deposition process; (ii) DSDS: similar cyclical process with exposure to SPA Ar plasma; and (iii) As-Dep: the dielectric deposited without any intermediate step. MOSCAPs are formed with TiN metal gate and the reliability of these devices is investigated by subjecting them to a constant voltage stress in the gate injection mode. Stress induced flat-band voltage shift (ΔVFB), stress induced leakage current (SILC) and stress induced interface state degradation are observed. DSDS samples demonstrate the superior characteristics whereas the worst degradation is observed for DADA samples. Time dependent dielectric breakdown (TDDB) shows that DSDS Hf1-xZrxO2 (x=0.8) has the superior characteristics with reduced oxygen vacancy, which is affiliated to electron affinity variation in HfO2 and ZrO2. The trap activation energy levels estimated from the temperature dependent current voltage characteristics also support the observed reliability characteristics for these devices.

In another experiment, HfO2 is lightly doped with Al with a variation in Al concentration by depositing intermediate HfAlOx layers. This work has demonstrated a high quality HfO2 based gate stack by depositing atomic layer deposited (ALD) HfAlOx along with HfO2 in a layered structure. In order to get multifold enhancement of the gate stack quality, both Al percentage and the distribution of Al are observed by varying the HfAlOx layer thickness and it is found that < 2% Al/(Al+Hf)% incorporation can result in up to 18% reduction in the average EOT along with up to 41 % reduction in the gate leakage current as compared to the dielectric with no Al content. On the other hand, excess Al presence in the interfacial layer moderately increases the interface state density (Dit). When devices are stressed in the gate injection mode at a constant voltage stress, dielectrics with Al/(Hf+Al)% < 2% show resistance to stress induced flat-band voltage shift (ΔVFB), and stress induced leakage current (SILC). The time dependent dielectric breakdown (TDDB) characteristics show a higher charge to breakdown and an increase in the extracted Weibull slope (β) that further confirms an enhanced dielectric reliability for devices with < 2% Al/(Al+Hf)%.