Reactive Ion Etching

Lithography & Patterning Installation 1
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RIE is used to etch various materials under vacuum in the presence of reactive ions. Typically a wide range of materials can be etched by use of various gas mixtures containing fluorine, chlorine, oxygen and other elements. An RF source accelerates stray electrons between a pair of plates in the presence of a low-pressure gas and reactive ions and free radicals (like monoatomic fluorine) are created. The surface to be etched is bombarded by the reactive ions and the material is etched by forming a volatile component. The etching mechanism can either be physical (sputtering mechanism) where the target material is mechanically sputtered away by the accelerated ions, chemical where the ions react with the target material to form a volatile compound, or both. The selection of the etch parameters (gas mixture, gas flow, pressure, RF power and bias) can give control over the anisotropy, selectivity, etching rate, and surface roughness by controlling this etching mechanism.


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          provided at NFFA-Europe laboratories by:

Etcher RIE Trion Sirus T2 Plus

Reactive ion etching (RIE) for etching Si, SiO2, Si3N4, W, Mo and polymers

Plasma excitation with RF (13.56 MHz)

Gases available: SF6, O2, Ar, CF4, CHF3

RF power up to 600 W, room temperature operation only

End point detector Intellevation LEP400

Up to 8 inch wafer size samples

Room temperature operation only

Laser interferometric dry etch depth monitor

Process chamber base pressure ~10-3 Torr

Process pressure 10 - 500 mTorr


Etcher ICP-RIE Plasmalab System 100

Inductively coupled plasma (ICP) reactive ion etching (RIE) for etching almost all different types of materials, including III-V semiconductors, silicon, dielectrics and metals

Only glasses, noble metals (Au, Ag, Pt, Cu, Pd), heavy metals (Cd, Pb, Zn) and silicones are not allowed

Plasma excitation with ICP (13.56 MHz) and RF (13.56 MHz)

Gases available: SF6, O2, Ar, H2, Cl2, CF4, C4F8

ICP power up to 2 kW and RF power up to 300 W, room temperature operation only

Up to 4 inch wafer size samples

Room temperature operation only

Process chamber base pressure ~10-6 - 10-7 Torr

Process pressure 5 - 90 mTorr


Oxford plasmalab Systems 100 @ Laboratory for Micro and Nanotechnology

Reactive Ion Etching

Two RIE-ICP systems one dedicated to the Bosch process (Au-free) and one for general purpose etches (F-based)

Typical gases C4F8, CF4, SF6, O2, Ar

Up to 4" wafers

High Vacuum, LN2 cooled stage


Relevant clean room tools

Cl-based plasma etching tool dedicated to Cr etching



Dry etching of Si, SiO2, Si3N4 and resist residual layer removing, Ar milling and surface activation by O2 plasma

Operation Gas: O2, N2, Ar, CF4, SF6, H2, CHF3

Sample size: up to 5"



Reactive ion etching (RIE) with magnetic field enhancement for etching polysilicon and dielectrics (3 chambers)

Plasma excitation with RF (13.56 MHz)

Magnetic Field: 0-60 Gauss

Gases available: C2F6, CHF3, O2, Ar, N2 and CF4 (chambers A&B); SF6, CF4, N2, Cl2, He/O2 and HBr (Chamber C)

RF power up to 1.2 kW

Up to 6 inch wafer size samples

CMOS contaminant metals (alkalines, noble metals) NOT allowed

Optical end-point detector for thickness > 500 nm polysilicon

Process chamber pressure 5 - 10 mTorr

Reactor Temperature: 15ºC (chambers A&B), 60ºC (chamber C)

Optical microscope

Reflectometer for film thickness measurement

Confocal microscope