Chemical mechanical planarization (CMP) is widely used to planarize and smooth the surface of semiconductor wafers. In CMP, diamond disc conditioning is traditionally employed to restore pad planarity and surface asperity. Pad deformation which occurs during conditioning affects the material removal mechanism of CMP since pad shape, stress and strain are related to cut rate during conditioning, pad wear rate and wafer material removal rate (MRR) during polishing. Available reports concerning the effect of diamond disc conditioning on pad deformation are based on simplified models of the pad and do not consider its microstructure. In this study, a two-dimensional (2-D) finite element analysis (FEA) model is proposed to analyze the interaction between the diamond disc conditioner and the polishing pad. To enhance modeling fidelity, image processing is utilized to characterize the morphological and mechanical properties of the pad. An FEA model of the characterized pad is developed and utilized to study the effects of process parameters (conditioning pressure and pad stiffness) on pad deformation. The study reveals that understanding the morphological and mechanical properties of CMP pads is important to the design of high performance pads.

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