Systematic finite element analyses are carried out to model the thermomechanical stresses in on-chip copper interconnect systems. Constitutive behavior of encapsulated copper films, determined by experimentally measuring the stress-temperature response during thermal cycling, is used in the model for predicting stresses in copper interconnect/low-k dielectric structures. Various combinations of oxide and polymer-based low-k dielectric schemes are considered. The evolution of stresses and deformation pattern in the dual-damascene copper, barrier layers, and the dielectrics is seen to have direct connections to the structural integrity of contemporary and future-generation devices. In particular, stresses experienced by the thin barrier layers and the mechanically weak low-k dielectrics are critically assessed. A parametric analysis on the influence of low-k material properties is also conducted. Practical implications in reliability issues such as voiding, interface fracture, electromigration and dielectric failure are discussed.

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