CA2048785A1 - Imager having improved thin film transistor and photosensitive device structures - Google Patents

Imager having improved thin film transistor and photosensitive device structures

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Publication number
CA2048785A1
CA2048785A1 CA 2048785 CA2048785A CA2048785A1 CA 2048785 A1 CA2048785 A1 CA 2048785A1 CA 2048785 CA2048785 CA 2048785 CA 2048785 A CA2048785 A CA 2048785A CA 2048785 A1 CA2048785 A1 CA 2048785A1
Authority
CA
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
semiconductor
thin
film
material
source
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
CA 2048785
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Robert F. Kwasnick
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
General Electric Co
Original Assignee
General Electric Co
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01LSEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES; ELECTRIC SOLID STATE DEVICES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H01L27/00Devices consisting of a plurality of semiconductor or other solid-state components formed in or on a common substrate
    • H01L27/14Devices consisting of a plurality of semiconductor or other solid-state components formed in or on a common substrate including semiconductor components sensitive to infra-red radiation, light, electromagnetic radiation of shorter wavelength, or corpuscular radiation and specially adapted either for the conversion of the energy of such radiation into electrical energy or for the control of electrical energy by such radiation
    • H01L27/144Devices controlled by radiation
    • H01L27/146Imager structures
    • H01L27/14643Photodiode arrays; MOS imagers

Abstract

RD-19,885 AN IMAGER HAVING IMPROVED THIN FILM
TRANSISTOR AND PHOTOSENSITIVE DEVICE
STRUCTURES
Abstract of the Disclosure An improved structure for a thin film transistor photodiode photosensitive array retains the semiconductor material of the thin film transistor layer under the entire area occupied by the photosensitive device for each pixel of the array. This eliminates a step in the layer on which the source metallization of the thin film transistor is disposed and results in more reliable passivation of that layer and thereby increases yield and reduces cost. Several improved processes may be employed for the fabrication of such a thin film transistor photodiode photosensitive array.

Description

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- 1 - RD-19,885 STRucrrup~F~

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The present application is related to Application Serial No. ~RD-19,511), filed , entitled, "Thin Film Transistor Structure With Improved Source/Drain Contacts", by R.F. KwaQnick, et al. and Application Serial No. IRD-19~810)~ filed , entitled, "Thin Film Transistor Having an Improved Gate Structure and Gate Coverage by the Gate Dielectric" by R.F. Kwasnick, et al., each of which is incorporated herein by reference.

Ba~k~roun~ In~Qxma~iQn The present invention is related to the field of photosensitive imaging arrays, and more particularly, to such imaging arrays which incorporate thin film transistors for control of readout.
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A variety of photosensitive imager arrays are known in the art. One type of photosensor array comprises a substrate having an array of amorphous silicon (a-Si) thin film transistors (TFT's) disposed thereon. The thin film transistors, in turn, have an array of amorphous silicon photodiodes disposed thereover and in contact therewith, with one photodiode associated with and connected to each thin film transistor. Such imagers can be fabricated with a relatively high density of relatively small photosensitive cells and can be made much larger in area as compared to such photosensor arrays fabricated in monocrystalline silicon. As a consequence, such imagers have found application in a number of products. The most common form of such a photosensltive array employs inverted thin film transistors .

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- 2 - RD-19,885 and in sequence from the substrate up, comprise a ga~e electrode pattern disposed on the substrate and con~igured to serve as a scan line for a ro~l of thin film transistors by connecting the gates of all o~ the thin film transistors on a row in parallel, a gate dielectric overlylng the gate electrode pattern and eY.posed portions of the substrate, a layer of intrinsic amorphous silicon having a thinner layer of N+ doped amorphous silicon disposed thereon with that silicon layer being patterned to provide the thin film transistors of the readout system, a layer of source/drain metallization disposed over the layers of semiconductor material and patterned to provide the source and drain electrodes of the individual thin film transistors and to couple a column of thin film transistors in parallel to a data scan line integral with the drain metallization of the transistors of that column. The source electrodes are individually isolated to individual cells. A second layer of amorphous silicon overlies this structure and is patterned to be restricted to individual segments, each disposed in ohmic contact with the source eiectrode of its associated thin film transistor. That source electrode serves as the bottom or readout contact for that photodiode. The upper contact for the photodiodes is typically a transparent conductor which makes contact to all of the diodes.
While such photosensitive arrays are successfully fabricated at reasonably low cost, there are yield problems in the fabrication of such arrays which increase the cost of the individual arrays. One of the yield problems is that during patterning of the amorphous silicon which forms the photodiodes, the etchant finds its way through weak or open spots in the passivation layers overlying the underlying thin film transistor array and, therefore, etches exposed portions of the silicon of the thin film transistors and exposed portions of the source/drain metallization of those devices with consequent impairment of the operating characteristics ,:
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_ 3 - RD-19,885 of the array including, in many cases, inoperativ~ness of particular picture elements ~pixels) of the array as a resulc of unintended open circuits.
An improved structure or the thln fiLm transistors of such a photosensitive array and o~ the photosensitive array itself is needed which facilitates fabrication of such arrays with greater yield and higher reliability.

Q~jects of the Invention Accordingly, a primary object of the present invention is to provide a thin film transistor structure for photosensitive arrays which has increased immunity to deterioration during patterning of overlying semiconductor material.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a photosensitive device semiconductor layer configuration which results in improved reliability and ease of fabrication of a photosensitive array employing thin film transistors.
Another object of the present invention is to provide an improved method for fabricating thin film transistor photosensitive arrays which results in simplified fabrication and hlgher yield.

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The above and other objec~s which will become apparent from the specification as a whole, including the drawings, are accomplished in accordance with the present invention by changing the retention pattern for the semiconductor layer in which the thin film transistors are fabricated. This semiconductor layer is configured in accordance with the intended source electrode pattern so that it underlies the entire area occupied by the source electrode for that thin film transistor and the entire area occupied by the semiconductor material of the overlying photosensitive , ,~
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2 0 ~ ~ r~ ~3 r~
- 4 - RD-l9~ ~385 device. In particular, instead of patterning the semiconductor material of which the thin ~ilm transistors are formed to minimize the overlap of the source metallization on that material, that rnaterial is intentionally pakterned ~o underlie the entire area occupied by the source electrode.
This change in semiconductor layer configuration eliminates a step in the source electrode whlch is typically on the order of 2, 500A high where the source electrode extends beyond the edge of the thin film transistor semiconductor material in the prior art configuration. That step in the prior art structure is a location where many faults and opens occur as a result of inadequate passivation of the source metallization and the semiconductor material of the thin film transistor.
Bri~e~ri~iOn of~th~ ~r~in~
The subject matter which is regarded as the invention is particularly pointed out and distinctly claimed in the concluding portion of the specification. The invention, however, both as to organization and method of practice, together with further objects and advantages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings in which:
Figure 1 is a plan view illustration of a portion of a~prior art thin film transistor photodiode photosensitive array;
Figures 2 and 3 are cross-sections taken through the structure of Figure 1 along the section lines 2-2 and 3-30 3;
`- Figure 4 is a plan view illustration of a similar portion of a thin film transistor photodiode photosensitive array in accordance with the present invention; and . . .
., . ~ , . ..
.

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- 5 -- E~D--19, 885 Figures 5 and 6 are cross~sections through the structure of Figure 4 taken along the lines 5-5 and 6-6 in Figure 4.

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In Figure 1, a portion of a prior art thin film transistor photodiode photosensitive array is illustrated in plan view. The central por~cion of this illustration is one pixel 160 of such a photosensitive array and has adjacent thereto small segments of the adjacent pixels to more clearly illustrate the overall configuration of the device. This same structure is illustrated in cross-section in Figures 2 and 3 which are taken along the lines 2-2 and 3-3 in Figure 1. As is apparent from Figures 2 and 3, the structure shown in plan view in Figure 1 has a plurality of levels. In the center of the pixel 160 is a relatively large, usually rectangular ~and typically substantially square) segment 150 of semiconductor material in which the photosensitive device for that cell is fabricated. Directly below that is the source electrode 138 for the thin film transistor associated with that cell which lies within the picture frame of the lying semiconductor material except in the upper left corner of the pixel 160. It will be understoodr that these thin film transistors are symmetrical and either electrode could 2S be called the source electrode. The selected designation is therefore arbitrary and has been chosen so that the drain electrode serves as the data line for the column of cells since data and drain both start with the letter "d". In the upper left-hand corner, the source metallization 138 includes a projection which extends over the semiconductor material 130-132 of the thin film transistor and overlaps sligh~ly with the gate metallization 118 for that transistor. The gate metallization 118 is disposed on the substrate 112 and is the lowest level portion of the structure identified in Figure 1. The source/drain metallization of the thin film i ~ . ;

.

- 6 _ ~ R~-19,885 transistor also includes stripes which extend vertically in the figure which are disposed on either side of the pixel 160. These conductors are known as data lines in the thin film transistor photosensitive array art. Each data line includes a projection which extends over the gate electrode of the thin film transistor for each pixel in the column served by that data line. In this manner, any data read out of any of the photosensitive cells in that column appears on that data line. The gate metallization 118 is common to all of the thin film transistors in a given row of this array and is known as a scan line. Applying a voltage to the gate metallization which renders the associated thin film transistor conductive causes whatever charge is stored in the photodiode as a result of the light impinging thereon to be transferred from the source electrode which is in contact with the lower surface of that photodiode to the data line.
In this manner, all cells in a given row of this array are read out simultaneously with their data appearing on the corresponding column data lines. Referring more particularly to Figure 2, the step in semiconductor material height where the semiconductor material ends is identified by the reference numeral 133. This point is also illustxated in Figure 1 at the upper left corner of the pixel 160 where the source electrode extends over the semiconductor material to 25 reach its overlap with the gate electrode.
In a typical thin film transistor, the gate metallization is about 1, 800A thick, the gate dielectric is about 1500A thick and the semiconductor material is about 2,500A thick.~ The source/drain metallization is typically 4000A thick. Consequently, with the vertical step at the edge of the semiconductor material which is typically produced by many fabrication processes, the source electrode extends over a step which is about five-eighth its own thickness. The source metallization is typically retains a substantially vertical edge which is difficult to adequately , . .

-2 ~
- 7 - RD-19,885 passivate. The problems crea~ed by this step are further exacerbated by the tendency of the source metallization to etch, during the etching of the source metallization, at a faster rate along steps, probably due to stress in the source metal going across the step. This forms a notch in the source metallization which can be particularly dificult to protect from subsequent etch steps required in the imager fabrication process. As a consequence of these effects, the passivation layer 148 which extends over this step in the source metallization has a significant propensity or penetration by the etchant which patterns the overlying semiconductor material. The effect of such penetration varies with the degree of passivation present prior to the beginning of the etching process and can vary from slight deterioration in the operating characteristics of the device to the creation of an open circuit which renders that pixel of the device inoperative. While in many applications a few inoperative pixels can be tolerated, they are considered undesirable even in those applications and are not permitted in many other applications. Consequently, there is a need to improve the structure and process for fabricating such thin film transistor photodiode imaging arrays to eliminate or minimize the tendency for the patterning of the overlying semiconductor material of the photosensitive devic~ to result in deterioration of the source electrode, the underlying semiconductor material or other portions of the structure as a result of inadequate passivation of such steps.
In accordance with the present invention, this problem is overcome by changing the pattern used to pattern the semiconductor material of the thin film transistor. In particular, rather than the semiconductor material of the thin film transistor being patterned to stop at the edge 133 as has been done in the prior art, this edge is eliminated by patterning the semiconductor material to underlie the entire source electrode of that transistor and the entire ~0~3~
- 8 - RD-19,8~5 semiconductor material of the photosensitive device for that pixel of the array. Thus, as illustrated in the plan vie~7 in Figure 4, the semiconductor material 32 extends into the interior of the pixel from the gate electrode protrusion into that pixel and forms a substantially rectangular picture frame 32 around the source electrode 38 for that pixel The semiconductor material of the photosensitive device forms a picture frame around both the ~ource metallization and the underlying semiconductor material, except where they extend out to the active area of the thin film transistor in the upper left portion of the pixel 60. For optimum device characteristics, it is preferred to fabricate the gate electrode material for this array as a two layer conductor comprised of chromium as a thin first layer and molybdenum as a thick second layer as taught in related Application Serial No. ~RD-19,810), entitled, "Thin Film Transistor Having an Improved Gate Structure and Gate Cov~rage by the Gate Dielectric". It is also preferred to ~abricate-the source/drain metallization as a two layer structure having a thin first layer of chromium and a relatively thick second layer of molybdenum as taught in related Application Serial No. (RD-19,511), entitled, "Thin Film Transistor Structure for Uniform Characteristics Across a Wafer and Method of Fabrication", in order to provide a sloped sidewall on the source/drain metallization which facilitates the passivation of those sidewalls by a subsequently deposited passivation layer 48.
This inventive structure may be fabricated in substantially the same manner as the prior art structure with but with a change in the configuration of the semiconductor material of the thin film transistors.
While it is preferred to have the source electrode disposed entirely on the semiconductor material of the thin film transistor as has been described, many of the resulting benefits can be obtained by locating the edge of the '' ' .
, . , 20~8~
- 9 - RD-19,885 semiconductor material of the thln film transistor far enough under the semiconductor material of the photosensitive device that the step in the source electrode is protected from exposure to the etchant used to pattern the semiconductor material of the photosensitive device by both that semiconductor material itself and the photoresist which protects those portions of that semiconductor material which are to be xetained in the final device structure. This eliminates the risk of ineffective passivation of the step in the source metallization resulting in penetration by the semiconductor etchant.
While the invention has been described in terms of its use with amorphous silicon, it will be understood that the invention is applicable to any similar structure whether made from silicon or other semiconductor materials.
While the invention has been described in detail herein in accord with certain preferred embodiments thereof, many modifications and changes therein may be effected by those skilled in the art. Accordingly, it is intended by the appended claims to cover all such modifications and changes as fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.

Claims (10)

1. A photosensitive imager comprising:
a plurality of photosensitive cells arranged in an array, each of said cells including:
a photosensitive semiconductor device, and an associated inverted thin film transistor, said array comprising:
a substrate;
a pattern of thin film transistor gate metallization disposed on said substrate, the pattern of said gate metallization being continuous over a plurality of said cells as a scan line;
a layer of gate dielectric disposed on said gate metallization;
a first layer of semiconductor material disposed on said gate dielectric, said first layer of semiconductor material being patterned to provide, for each cell, the active portion of its associated thin film transistor and an extension thereof which underlies a portion of that cell's photosensitive device;
a layer of source/drain metallization disposed on said first layer of semiconductor material, said source/drain metallization being patterned to form separate source and drain electrodes, said drain electrodes being continuous over a plurality of said cells as a data line and said source electrodes each being localized to a single cell and being -11 - RD-19,885 everywhere disposed on said first layer of semiconductor material;
a second layer of semiconductor material comprising a plurality of segments, one for each of said photosensitive devices, each of said segments being disposed at least partially over and in ohmic contact with the source electrode of the thin film transistor which is associated with its photosensitive device.
2. The imager recited in claim 1 wherein:
said first layer of semiconductor material is silicon.
3. The imager recited in claim 2 wherein:
said second layer of semiconductor material is silicon.
4. A photosensitive imager comprising:
a plurality of photosensitive cells arranged in an array, each of said cells including:
a photosensitive semiconductor device, and an associated inverted thin film transistor, said array comprising:
a substrate;
a pattern of thin film transistor gate metallization disposed on said substrate, the pattern of said gate metallization being continuous over a plurality of said cells as a scan line;
a layer of gate dielectric disposed on said gate metallization;
a first layer of semiconductor material disposed on said gate dielectric, said first layer of semiconductor material being - 12 - RD-19,885 patterned to provide, for each cell, the active portion of its associated thin film transistor and an extension thereof which underlies a portion of that cell's photosensitive device;
a layer of source/drain metallization disposed on said first layer of semiconductor material, said source/drain metallization being patterned to form separate source and drain electrodes, said drain electrodes being continuous over a plurality of said cells as a data line and said source electrodes each being localized to a single cell and including a portion which extends beyond the extension portion of said first layer of semiconductor material;
a second layer of semiconductor material comprising a plurality of segments, one for each of said photosensitive devices, each of said segments being disposed at least partially over and in ohmic contact with the source electrode of the thin film transistor which is associated with its photosensitive device and covering the location at which said source electrode extends beyond said extension portion of said first layer of semiconductor material.
5. The imager recited in claim 4 wherein:
said first layer of semiconductor material is silicon.
6. The imager recited in claim 5 wherein:
said second layer of semiconductor material is silicon.
7. A photoimager comprising:
a substrate;

- 13 - RD-19,885 a plurality of photosensitive cells arranged in an array, each of said cells including an island of semiconductor material comprising a photosensitive semiconductor device;
a plurality of inverted thin film transistors, one associated with each of said photosensitive cells, each of said inverted thin film transistors comprising:
gate metallization disposed on said substrate, a layer of gate dielectric disposed on said gate metallization, a layer of transistor semiconductor material disposed on said gate dielectric, said transistor semiconductor material being patterned to provide a sublayer segment and a thin film transistor segment which includes a source region portion, said sublayer segment being continuous with said source region portion and extending under the island of semiconductor material which comprises its associated photosensitive device, and the source metallization of said thin film transistor being disposed on and substantially covering said source region portion and said sublayer segment of said transistor semiconductor material.
8. The imager recited in claim 7 wherein:
said transistor semiconductor material is silicon.
9. The imager recited in claim 8 wherein:
said semiconductor material of said photosensitive device is silicon.

- 14 - RD-19,885
10. The invention as defined in any of the preceding claims includiny any further features of novelty disclosed.
CA 2048785 1990-10-05 1991-08-08 Imager having improved thin film transistor and photosensitive device structures Abandoned CA2048785A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US59342290 true 1990-10-05 1990-10-05
US593,422 1990-10-05

Publications (1)

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CA2048785A1 true true CA2048785A1 (en) 1992-04-06

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Country Status (3)

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EP (1) EP0504396A1 (en)
CA (1) CA2048785A1 (en)
WO (1) WO1992006502A1 (en)

Families Citing this family (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
JPH04321273A (en) * 1991-04-19 1992-11-11 Fuji Xerox Co Ltd Image sensor
US5399884A (en) * 1993-11-10 1995-03-21 General Electric Company Radiation imager with single passivation dielectric for transistor and diode

Family Cites Families (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US4746989A (en) * 1984-05-04 1988-05-24 Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. Contact-type imager for scanning moving image-bearing members
EP0251563A3 (en) * 1986-06-17 1991-01-09 Tokyo Electric Co. Ltd. Photoelectric conversion device
US4889983A (en) * 1987-11-24 1989-12-26 Mitsubishi Denki Kabushiki Kaisha Image sensor and production method thereof

Also Published As

Publication number Publication date Type
EP0504396A1 (en) 1992-09-23 application
WO1992006502A1 (en) 1992-04-16 application

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