Ultra thin (5 nm) silicon oxynitride (SiON) films were fabricated at a low temperature using nitrogen plasma generated by an inductively coupled plasma system. Effects of post-metalization annealing (PMA) of Al/SiON/Si MOS structure on the electrical properties of the SiON films were studied and correlations between the charge trapping states and the leakage current were established. Positive charge trapping by interface states generated by plasma damage was characterized by the hysteresis in high-frequency capacitance-voltage (C-V) characteristics. Hysteresis was observed to be completely removed by PMA while interface state density at the Si mid band gap reduced from 2.2×1013 to 3.7×1011/eV/cm2 and the oxide fixed charge density changed from 3.3×1012 to -4×1011/cm2. The leakage current also decreased significantly, by more than two orders of magnitude, with PMA. The analysis of the leakage current using trap assisted tunneling (TAT) mechanism indicated that with PMA, the trap energy level in the SiON film becomes shallower from 1.3 to 0.7 eV. The positive trapped charges were observed to be annihilated by PMA and the trapping sites became neutral trap centers in the SiON film. This could lead to the reduction in the leakage current component given rise to by TAT.
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