Junction stability and donor deactivation in silicon at high doping limit has been a long-standing issue in advanced semiconductor devices. Recently, heavily doped epitaxial Si:P layer with phosphorus concentrations as high as 3 × 1021 at./cm3 has been employed in nanowire field-effect transistor (FET) devices for sub-3 nm technology node as low resistance source-drain and channel stressor. In such highly doped Si:P, the actual dopant activation is much less than nominal phosphorus concentration due to inactive phosphorus atoms arising from dopant-vacancy defects (PnV) clustering phenomenon. Even with state-of-the-art high temperature millisecond annealing, this epitaxial film is thermally unstable upon subsequent thermal treatments. To overcome this limitation, we demonstrate a selective dopant activation scheme which results from the dipole moments of inactive PnV structures within the crystal lattice and their direct energy coupling with the external electric field. It's found that superior stability in dopant activation can be achieved through microwave annealing when a specific temperature and field conditions are met using a triple-parallel-susceptor setup in the microwave cavity. Based on experimental results and ab-initio calculation, we proposed a model, whereas the microwave-PnV interactions result in a specific distribution of dopant defect dominated by thermally stable P4V clusters through elimination of unstable low order PnV, leading to the suppression of donor deactivation and achieving thermally stable junction.
- AB-Initio simulation