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Applied Materials advances etch tech for 3D ICs

04 Jul 2012

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Applied Materials Inc. has rolled out the Applied Centura Avatar dielectric etch system. The company stated that the breakthrough system is designed to solve one of the most demanding challenges in creating the 3D memory architectures that deliver the high-density, terabit storage capability required for next-generation data-intensive mobile devices.

"With the Avatar system, we've capitalized on our leadership in plasma technology to address the unmet challenges of fabricating 3D memory structures that require the etching of deep features in complex multilayer material stacks," noted Prabu Raja, VP and GM of Applied's etch business group. "Customers are very enthusiastic about the breakthrough capabilities of this new system. We have already shipped more than 30 chambers to multiple customers for critical applications including the pilot production of future chips."

The Avatar system etches the deep, narrow features that are a hallmark of 3D NAND memory arrays. These 3D arrays represent an exciting new type of flash device in which as many as 64 layers of memory cells are built up vertically to create extraordinary bit density in a small area.

The Avatar system can etch holes and trenches in complex film stacks with depth to width aspect ratios of up to 80:1. In addition, the system enables the simultaneous and precise etching of features with greatly varying depths—which is critical to fabricating the "staircase" contact structures that connect each layer of memory cells to the outside world.

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