US20070138380A1 - Funneled light pipe for pixel sensors - Google Patents

Funneled light pipe for pixel sensors Download PDF

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US20070138380A1
US20070138380A1 US11/275,171 US27517105A US2007138380A1 US 20070138380 A1 US20070138380 A1 US 20070138380A1 US 27517105 A US27517105 A US 27517105A US 2007138380 A1 US2007138380 A1 US 2007138380A1
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Prior art keywords
funneled
structure
cavity
top
light pipe
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US7524694B2 (en
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James Adkisson
Jeffrey Gambino
Robert Leidy
Richard Rassel
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Smartsens Technology Cayman Inc
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International Business Machines Corp
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01JMEASUREMENT OF INTENSITY, VELOCITY, SPECTRAL CONTENT, POLARISATION, PHASE OR PULSE CHARACTERISTICS OF INFRA-RED, VISIBLE OR ULTRA-VIOLET LIGHT; COLORIMETRY; RADIATION PYROMETRY
    • G01J1/00Photometry, e.g. photographic exposure meter
    • G01J1/02Details
    • G01J1/04Optical or mechanical part supplementary adjustable parts
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01JMEASUREMENT OF INTENSITY, VELOCITY, SPECTRAL CONTENT, POLARISATION, PHASE OR PULSE CHARACTERISTICS OF INFRA-RED, VISIBLE OR ULTRA-VIOLET LIGHT; COLORIMETRY; RADIATION PYROMETRY
    • G01J1/00Photometry, e.g. photographic exposure meter
    • G01J1/02Details
    • G01J1/04Optical or mechanical part supplementary adjustable parts
    • G01J1/0407Optical elements not provided otherwise, e.g. manifolds, windows, holograms, gratings
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01JMEASUREMENT OF INTENSITY, VELOCITY, SPECTRAL CONTENT, POLARISATION, PHASE OR PULSE CHARACTERISTICS OF INFRA-RED, VISIBLE OR ULTRA-VIOLET LIGHT; COLORIMETRY; RADIATION PYROMETRY
    • G01J1/00Photometry, e.g. photographic exposure meter
    • G01J1/02Details
    • G01J1/04Optical or mechanical part supplementary adjustable parts
    • G01J1/0407Optical elements not provided otherwise, e.g. manifolds, windows, holograms, gratings
    • G01J1/0422Optical elements not provided otherwise, e.g. manifolds, windows, holograms, gratings using light concentrators, collectors or condensers
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01JMEASUREMENT OF INTENSITY, VELOCITY, SPECTRAL CONTENT, POLARISATION, PHASE OR PULSE CHARACTERISTICS OF INFRA-RED, VISIBLE OR ULTRA-VIOLET LIGHT; COLORIMETRY; RADIATION PYROMETRY
    • G01J1/00Photometry, e.g. photographic exposure meter
    • G01J1/02Details
    • G01J1/04Optical or mechanical part supplementary adjustable parts
    • G01J1/0488Optical or mechanical part supplementary adjustable parts with spectral filtering

Abstract

A photo sensing structure and methods for forming the same. The structure includes (a) a semiconductor substrate and (b) a photo collection region on the semiconductor substrate. The structure also includes a funneled light pipe on top of the photo collection region. The funneled light pipe includes (i) a bottom cylindrical portion on top of the photo collection region of the photo collection region, and (ii) a funneled portion which has a tapered shape and is on top and in direct physical contact with the bottom cylindrical portion. The structure further includes a color filter region on top of the funneled light pipe.

Description

    BACKGROUNG OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Technical Field
  • The present invention relates to pixel sensors, and more specifically, to pixel sensors that have funneled light pipes.
  • 2. Related Art
  • Some advanced pixel sensors implement vertical light pipes with micro-lenses, wherein the micro-lenses are used to focus light into the light pipes. Therefore, there is a need for a pixel sensor structure that does not have the micro-lenses of the prior art.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention provides a pixel sensor structure, comprising (a) a semiconductor substrate; (b) a photo collection region on the semiconductor substrate; and (c) a funneled light pipe on top of the photo collection region, wherein the funneled light pipe comprises (i) a bottom cylindrical portion on top of the photo collection region of the photo collection region, and (ii) a funneled portion which has a tapered shape and is on top and in direct physical contact with the bottom cylindrical portion.
  • The present invention also provides a semiconductor structure fabrication method, comprising providing a structure that includes (i) a semiconductor substrate, (ii) a photo collection region on the semiconductor substrate, and (iii) a BEOL (Back End Of Line) layer on the photo collection region and the semiconductor substrate; etching the BEOL layer so as to form a funneled cavity in the BEOL layer, wherein a cross-section of the funneled cavity has a tapered shape; after said etching the BEOL layer so as to form the funneled cavity in the BEOL layer, further etching the BEOL layer through the funneled cavity so as to form a cylindrical cavity in the BEOL layer, wherein the cylindrical cavity are directly above the photo collection region and directly beneath the funneled cavity; and forming a funneled light pipe in the cylindrical cavity and the funneled cavity.
  • The present invention also provides a photo sensing structure, comprising (a) a semiconductor substrate; (b) a photo collection region on the semiconductor substrate; (c) a BEOL (Back End Of Line) layer on the semiconductor substrate and the photo collection region; and (d) a funneled light pipe on top of the photo collection region and in the BEOL layer, wherein the funneled light pipe comprises (i) a bottom cylindrical portion on top of the photo collection region of the photo collection region, (ii) a funneled portion which has a tapered shape and is on top and in direct physical contact with the bottom cylindrical portion, and (iii) a light reflective layer on side walls of the bottom cylindrical portion and the funneled portion.
  • The present invention provides a pixel sensor structure that does not have the micro-lens of the prior art.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIGS. 1A-1I show cross-section views of a pixel sensor going through different fabrication steps of a fabrication process, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention.
  • FIGS. 2, 3, and 4 show other embodiments of the pixel sensor of FIG. 1I, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • FIGS. 1A-1I show cross-section views of a pixel sensor 100 going through different fabrication steps of a fabrication process, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention.
  • With reference to FIG. 1A, in one embodiment, the fabrication process starts out with a semiconductor substrate 110. Illustratively, the semiconductor substrate 110 comprises a semiconductor material such as silicon Si, germanium Ge, etc.
  • Next, in one embodiment, four photo collection region 112 a, 112 b, 112 c, and 112 d are formed on top of the semiconductor substrate 110 as shown in FIG. 1A. Illustratively, the four photo collection region 112 a, 112 b, 112 c, and 112 d are formed by using any conventional method. In one embodiment, the four photo collection region 112 a, 112 b, 112 c, and 112 d are photo diodes or photo gates 112 a, 112 b, 112 c, and 112 d, respectively.
  • Next, with reference to FIG. 1B, in one embodiment, a nitride layer 116 is formed on top of the semiconductor substrate 110 and the photo diodes 112 a, 112 b, 112 c, and 112 d. More specifically, the nitride layer 116 can be formed by CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition) of silicon nitride on top of the structure 100 of FIG. 1A.
  • Next, in one embodiment, a dielectric layer 122 is formed on top of the nitride layer 116. Illustratively, the dielectric layer 122 comprises an electrically insulating material such as USG (Undoped Silicate Glass).
  • Next, in one embodiment, metal lines 124 are formed in the dielectric layer 122. Illustratively, the metal lines 124 comprise copper, aluminum, or any other electrically conductive metal. In one embodiment, the metal lines 124 are formed by using a conventional method.
  • Next, in one embodiment, a nitride layer 126 is formed on top of the dielectric layer 122. Illustratively, the nitride layer 126 is formed by CVD of silicon nitride on top of the dielectric layer 122. The dielectric layer 122, the metal lines 124, and the nitride layer 126 are collectively referred to as an interconnect layer 120.
  • Next, with reference to FIG. 1C, in one embodiment, interconnect layers 130, 140, and 150 similar to the interconnect layer 120 are formed in that order on top of each other to provide interconnect multi-layers 155 as shown in FIG. 1C. The interconnect multi-layers 155 can also be referred to as a BEOL (Back End Of Line) layer 155. In one embodiment, the formation of each of the interconnect layers 130, 140, and 150 is similar to the formation of the interconnect layer 120. In one embodiment, the nitride layers 126, 136, and 146 separate the adjacent interconnect layers 120, 130, 140, and 150.
  • Next, with reference to FIG. 1D, in one embodiment, a patterned photo-resist layer 160 is formed on top of the nitride layer 156. In one embodiment, the patterned photo-resist layer 160 is formed by using a conventional lithographic process.
  • Next, with reference to FIG. 1E, in one embodiment, the patterned photo-resist layer 160 is used as a blocking mask to etch the interconnect multi-layers 155 stopping at the nitride layer 146 to form funnels 164 a, 164 b, 164 c, and 164 d in the interconnect multi-layers 155. This etching step is represented by arrows 162 and hereafter is referred to as the etching step 162. In one embodiment, the etching step 162 is performed isotropically such that the cross-section of each of side walls 165 a, 165 b, 165 c, and 165 d of the funnels 164 a, 164 b, 164 c, and 164 d, respectively, has a shape of a concave hyperbola as shown in FIG. 1E.
  • Next, with reference to FIG. 1F, in one embodiment, the patterned photo-resist layer 160 is used as a blocking mask to further etch through the interconnect multi-layers 155 stopping at the nitride layer 116 to form cavities 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, and 168 d. This etching step is represented by arrows 166 and hereafter is referred to as the etching step 166. In one embodiment, the etching step 166 is an anisotropic etching process. Because the etching step 166 is anisotropic, so side walls 169 a, 169 b, 169 c, and 169 d of the cavities 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, and 168 d, respectively, are vertical. The funnel 164 a and the cavity 168 a can be collectively referred to as a funneled pipe 164 a, 168 a. Similarly, the funnel 164 b and the cavity 168 b can be collectively referred to as a funneled pipe 164 b, 168 b. The funnel 164 c and the cavity 168 c can be collectively referred to as a funneled pipe 164 c, 168 c. The funnel 164 dand the cavity 168 d can be collectively referred to as a funneled pipe 164 d, 168 d.
  • Next, in one embodiment, the patterned photo-resist layer 160 is removed by using a wet etching step, resulting in the structure 100 of FIG. 1G. Alternatively, the patterned photo-resist layer 160 is removed by using an oxygen based plasma etch.
  • Next, with reference to FIG. 1H, in one embodiment, the funneled pipes 164 a, 168 a; 164 b, 168 b; 164 c, 168 c; and 164 d, 168 d (in FIG. 1G) are filled with a transparent material so as to form funneled light pipes 170 a, 170 b, 170 c, and 170 d, respectively. Illustratively, the funneled light pipes 170 a, 170 b, 170 c, and 170 d are formed by depositing the transparent material on top of the entire structure 100 of FIG. 1G (including in the funneled pipes 164 a, 168 a; 164 b, 168 b; 164 c, 168 c and 164 d, 168 d) and then polishing by a CMP (Chemical Mechanical Polishing) step to remove excessive transparent material outside the funneled pipes 164 a, 168 a; 164 b, 168 b; 164 c, 168 c and 164 d, 168 d. In an alternative embodiment, the funneled pipes 164 a, 168 a; 164 b, 168 b; 164 c, 168 c; and 164 d, 168 d (in FIG. 1G) are filled with a spin-on photo-resist, and then the excessive photo-resist outside the funneled pipes 164 a,168 a; 164 b,168 b; 164 c,168 c and 164 d,168 d can be removed by using a standard lithographic process. In one embodiment, the spin-on photo-resist is a clear material.
  • In one embodiment, the transparent material of the funneled light pipes 170 a, 170 b, 170 c, and 170 d has a refractive index: (a) which is higher than the refractive index of the material of the dielectric layers 122, 132, 142, and 152 surrounding the funneled light pipes 170 a, 170 b, 170 c, and 170 d, and (b) but which is lower than the refractive index of the material of the nitride layer 116 above the photo diodes 112 a, 112 b, 112 c, and 112 d. In one embodiment, the transparent material of the funneled light pipes 170 a, 170 b, 170 c, and 170 d can be BPSG (boro-phospho-silicate glass), or silicon nitride.
  • In an alternative embodiment, the side walls 165 a, 165 b, 165 c, 165 d, 169 a, 169 b, 169 c, and 169 d of the funneled pipes 164 a,168 a; 164 b,168 b; 164 c,168 c and 164 d,168 d are coated with a light reflective material (such as aluminum) so as to form a light reflective layer (not shown) before the funneled light pipes 170 a, 170 b, 170 c, and 170 d are formed as described above. More specifically, the aluminum layer is formed by depositing aluminum on top of the entire structure 100 of FIG. 1G (including on the side walls 165 a, 165 b, 165 c, 165 d, 169 a, 169 b, 169 c, and 169 d of the funneled pipes 164 a,168 a; 164 b,168 b; 164 c,168 c and 164 d,168 d) by CVD and then etching back to remove excessive aluminum outside the funneled pipes 164 a,168 a; 164 b,168 b; 164 c,168 c and 164 d,168 d. As a result, the aluminum layer remains on the side walls 165 a, 165 b, 165 c, 165 d, 169 a, 169 b, 169 c, and 169 d after the etching step. In this alternative embodiment, because of the aluminum layer on the side walls 165 a, 165 b, 165 c, 165 d, 169 a, 169 b, 169 c, the refractive index of the transparent material does not need to be higher than the refractive index of the material of the dielectric layers 122, 132, 142, and 152.
  • In yet another alternative embodiment, the side walls 165 a, 165 b, 165 c, 165 d, 169 a, 169 b, 169 c, and 169 d of the funneled pipes 164 a,168 a; 164 b,168 b; 164 c,168 c and 164 d,168 d can be first coated with a nitride film (not shown) so as to form a “cladding” and then an oxide material or a clear polymer can be used to fill the funneled pipes 164 a, 168 a; 164 b,168 b; 164 c,168 c and 164 d,168 d as described above.
  • Next, with reference to FIG. 1I, in one embodiment, CFA (Color Filter Array) regions 180 a, 180 b, 180 c, and 180 d are formed on top of the funneled light pipes 170 a, 170 b, 170 c, and 170 d, respectively. More specifically, the CFA regions 180 a and 180 c comprise a green color filter material that allows only green photons to pass through it. The CFA region 180 b comprises a blue color filter material that allows only blue photons to pass through it. The CFA region 180 d comprises a red color filter material that allows only red photons to pass through it. In one embodiment, the CFA regions 180 a, 180 b, 180 c, and 180 d are formed as follows. First, the green CFA regions 180 a and 180 c are formed by using any conventional method. Then, in a similar manner, the blue CFA region 180 b and the red CFA region 180 d are formed in turn. The resulting structure 100 is shown in FIG. 1I. It should be noted that the green, red, blue colors are used for illustration only and other colors can be used. In one embodiment, the arrangement of the CFA regions 180 a, 180 b, 180 c, and 180 d can be different.
  • In one embodiment, the operation of the pixel sensor 100 of FIG. 1I is as follows. Assume that a light beam (not shown) which comprises blue, red, and green photons is incident on the surface 186 of the structure 100 of FIG. 1I. The CFA regions 180 a, 180 b, 180 c, and 180 d ensure that only green photons pass through the green CFA regions 180 a and 180 c, only blue photons pass through the blue CFA region 180 b, and only red photons pass through the red CFA region 180 d. FIG. 1I′ shows paths of photons in the funneled light pipe 170 a of FIG. 1I, for illustration. With reference to FIGS. 1I and 1I′, some of the green photons that pass through the CFA region 180 a (like photon 182) will travel down the funneled light pipe 170 a to arrive at the photo diode 112 a without hitting the side walls 165 a and 169 a of the funneled light pipe 170 a. Some others of the green photons that pass through the CFA region 180 a (like a photon 184) will hit the side walls 165 a and 169 a at possibly different incident angles. In the representative case of the photon 184, the photon 184 travels along a path i and hits the side wall 165 a at an incident angle θ (θ is the angle between the path i and an imaginary line n, called a normal line, that is perpendicular to the side wall 165 a at the incident point of the photon 184). If the incident angle θ of the photon 184 is less than a critical angle θ0 (not shown), the photon 184 will refract into the BEOL layer 155. The critical angle θ0 is determined by the mathematical formula: θ 0 = sin - 1 ( n dielectric material n transparent material )
    wherein ndielectric material is refractive index of the material of the dielectric layers 122, 132, 142, and 152 and ntransparent material is refractive index of the transparent material of the funneled light pipe 170 a. If the incident angle θ of the photon 184 is greater than the critical angle θ0, the photon 184 will bounce back (i.e., reflect) into the funneled light pipe 170 a. Then, the photon 184 can travel down the funneled light pipe 170 a and arrive at the photo diode 112 a, or hit the side walls 165 a and 169 a one or more times at possibly different incident angles (not shown). If these incident angles are also greater than the critical angle θ0, the photon 184 will travel down the funneled light pipe 170 a and arrive at the photo diode 112 a. The greater ntransparent material is, the smaller the critical angle θ0 is, and therefore, the more green photons (like the photon 184) that arrive at the photo diode 112 a. Blue photons of the light beam that pass through the blue CFA region 180 b will travel down along the funneled light pipe 170 b and reach the photo diodes 112 b in a similar manner. Red photons of the light beam that pass through the red CFA region 180 d will travel down along the funneled light pipe 170 d and reach the photo diodes 112 d in a similar manner. As a result, the greater ntransparent material is, the more photons of the light beam that arrive at the photo diodes 112 a, 112 b, 112 c and 112 d. It should be noted that the description above is for the case where there is no light reflective coating layer on side walls 165 a, 165 b, 165 c, 165 d, 169 a, 169 b, 169 c, and 169 d. If the side walls 165 a, 165 b, 169 a, 169 b, 169 c, and 169 d of the funneled pipes 164 a,168 a; 164 b,168 b; 164 c,168 c and 164 d,168 d are coated with the light reflective material (such as aluminum) and then filled with the transparent material as describe above with reference to FIG. 1H, the photon 184 will reflect back regardless of the incident angle θ.
  • FIG. 2 shows a cross-section view of a pixel sensor 200, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. In one embodiment, the pixel sensor 200 is similar to the pixel sensor 100 of FIG. 1I, except that the cross-section of each of side walls 265 a, 265 b, 265 c, and 265 d of the funnels 264 a, 264 b, 264 c, and 264 d has a shape of a convex hyperbola as shown in FIG. 2 (as opposed to the concave hyperbolic shape of the side walls 165 a, 165 b, 165 c, and 165 d of the funnels 164 a, 164 b, 164 c, and 164 d, respectively, as shown in FIG. 1I). For simplicity, similar regions and layers will have the same reference numeral. In one embodiment, the convex hyperbolic side walls 265 a, 265 b, 265 c, and 265 d of the funnels 264 a, 264 b, 264 c, and 264 d, respectively, are formed by etching with a changing component of chemical substance or another chemical substance. In one embodiment, the convex hyperbolic side walls 265 a, 265 b, 265 c, and 265 d of the funnels 264 a, 264 b, 264 c, and 264 d are formed by polymerizing RIE process (fluorocarbon chemistry with CHF3 or C4F8 for example), and then the lower portions of light pipes are formed by non-polymerizing RIE process (CF4 or CHF3/02 or C4F8/O2).
  • In one embodiment, the operation of the pixel sensor 200 is similar to the operation of the pixel sensor 100 of FIG. 1I as described above. More specifically, when a light beam (not shown) is incident on the surface 286 of the structure 200, most of the photons of the light beam that pass through the CFA regions 180 a, 180 b, 180 c, and 180 d will arrive at the photo diodes 112 a, 112 b, 112 c and 112 d, respectively.
  • FIG. 3 shows a cross-section view of a pixel sensor 300, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. In one embodiment, the pixel sensor 300 is similar to the pixel sensor 100 of FIG. 1I, except that the cross-section of each of side walls 365 a, 365 b, 365 c, and 365 d of the funnels 364 a, 364 b, 364 c, and 364 d is a slant straight line as shown in FIG. 3. In one embodiment, the straight side walls 365 a, 365 b, 365 c, and 365 d of the funnels 364 a, 364 b, 364 c, and 364 d, respectively, are formed by etching with a changing component of chemical substance or another chemical substance. In one embodiment, the straight funnels 364 a, 364 b, 364 c, and 364 d are formed by polymerizing RIE process (fluorocarbon chemistry with CHF3 or C4F8 for example), and then the lower portions of light pipes are formed by non-polymerizing RIE process (CF4 or CHF3/O2 or C4F8/O2). In one embodiment, the straight funnels 364 a, 364 b, 364 c, and 364 d can also be formed by anisotropic RIE to form non-tapered light pipe (including lower portions) and followed by sputter etch (in Ar for example) to form tapered upper portions of light pipes.
  • In one embodiment, the operation of the pixel sensor 300 is similar to the operation of the pixel sensor 100 of FIG. 1I as described above. More specifically, when a light beam (not shown) is incident on the surface 386 of the structure 300, most of the photons of the light beam that pass through the CFA regions 180 a, 180 b, 180 c, and 180 d will arrive at the photo diodes 112 a, 112 b, 112 c, and 112 d, respectively.
  • FIG. 4 shows a cross-section view of a pixel sensor 400, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. In one embodiment, the formation of the pixel sensor 400 is similar to the formation of the structure 100 of FIG. 1H, except for the formation of funneled light pipes 168 a,480 a; 168 b,480 b; 168 c,480 c; and 168 d,480 d. More specifically, the cavities 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, and 168 d of the funneled light pipes 168 a,480 a; 168 b,480 b; 168 c,480 c; and 168 d,480 d are filled with the transparent material which is then etched back down to the filled cavities 168 a, 168 b, 168 c, and 168 d. Next, in one embodiment, CFA funneled regions 480 a, 480 b, 480 c, and 480 d are formed in the funnels 164 a, 164 b, 164 c, and 164 d, respectively, by using any conventional method, resulting in the structure 400 of FIG. 4. More specifically, the funnels 164 a and 164 c are filled with a green color filter material to form the green CFA funneled regions 480 a and 480 c that allow only green photons to pass through them. Then, the funnel 164 b is filled with a blue color filter material to form the blue CFA funneled region 480 b that allows only blue photons to pass through it. Then, the funnel 164 d is filled with a red color filter material to form the red CFA funneled region 480 d that allows only red photons to pass through it.
  • In one embodiment, the operation of the pixel sensor 400 of FIG. 4 is similar to the operation of the pixel sensor 100 of FIG. 1I. It should be noted that the CFA funneled regions 480 a, 480 b, 480 c, and 480 d play two roles: (a) the role of color filter regions (similar to the role of the CFA regions 180 a, 180 b, 180 c, and 180 d of FIG. 1I) and (b) the role of funneled regions (similar to the role of the filled funnels 164 a, 164 b, 164 c, and 164 d of FIG. 1I).
  • FIG. 4′ shows a cross-section view of a pixel sensor 400′, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. In one embodiment, the formation of the pixel sensor 400′ is similar to the formation of the pixel sensor 400 of FIG. 4, except that micro-lenses 490 a, 490 b, 490 c, and 490 d are formed on top of the CFA funneled regions 480 a, 480 b, 480 c, and 480 d, respectively. The micro-lenses 490 a, 490 b, 490 c, and 490 d are used to focus light into the CFA funneled regions 480 a, 480 b, 480 c, and 480 d, respectively. It should be noted that the micro-lenses 490 a, 490 b, 490 c, and 490 d can be applied to all the embodiments, including with and without color filter arrays (like the CFA regions 180 a, 180 b, 180 c, and 180 d of FIG. 1I).
  • In the embodiments described above, with reference to FIGS. 1A-1I, there are four photo diodes 112 a, 112 b, 112 c, and 112 d. In general, the pixel sensor 100 can have N photo diodes, and wherein N is a positive integer.
  • In the embodiments described above, with reference to FIG. 1E, the etching step 162 stops at the nitride layer 146 of the interconnect layer 140. In an alternative embodiment, the etching step 162 stops before the nitride layer 146 is exposed to surrounding ambient. In yet another alternative embodiment, the etching step 162 etches through the nitride layer 146 and stops at the nitride layer 136. In general, the etching step 162 can stop at anywhere in the interconnect multi-layers 155.
  • In the embodiments described above, the side walls of the funnels 164 a, 164 b, 164 c, and 164 d (FIG. 1G), the funnels 264 a, 264 b, 264 c, and 264 d (FIG. 2), and the funnels 364 a, 364 b, 364 c, and 364 d (FIG. 3) have a hyperbolic shape. Alternatively, they have a parabolic shape.
  • While particular embodiments of the present invention have been described herein for purposes of illustration, many modifications and changes will become apparent to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, the appended claims are intended to encompass all such modifications and changes as fall within the true spirit and scope of this invention.

Claims (30)

1. A pixel sensor structure, comprising:
(a) a semiconductor substrate;
(b) a photo collection region on the semiconductor substrate; and
(c) a funneled light pipe on top of the photo collection region, wherein the funneled light pipe comprises (i) a bottom cylindrical portion on top of the photo collection region of the photo collection region, and (ii) a funneled portion which has a tapered shape and is on top and in direct physical contact with the bottom cylindrical portion.
2. The structure of claim 1, further comprising a color filter region on top of the funneled light pipe.
3. The structure of claim 2, further comprising a micro-lens on top of the color filter region.
4. The structure of claim 1, further comprising a micro-lens on top of the funneled light pipe.
5. The structure of claim 1, wherein a first horizontal cross-section of the funneled portion is larger in area than a second horizontal cross-section of the bottom cylindrical portion.
6. The structure of claim 1, wherein a cross-section of the funneled portion has a concave shape.
7. The structure of claim 6, wherein the concave shape has a hyperbolic shape.
8. The structure of claim 6, wherein the concave shape has a parabolic shape.
9. The structure of claim 1, wherein a cross-section of the funneled portion has a convex shape.
10. The structure of claim 9, wherein the convex shape has a hyperbolic shape.
11. The structure of claim 9, wherein the convex shape has a parabolic shape.
12. The structure of claim 1, wherein a cross-section of the funneled portion has a shape of a straight line.
13. The structure of claim 1, further comprising a BEOL (Back End Of Line) layer on top of the photo collection region and the semiconductor substrate,
wherein the funneled light pipe resides in the BEOL layer, and
wherein the BEOL layer comprises M interconnect layers, M being a positive integer.
14. The structure of claim 13, wherein the funneled portion resides in only one interconnect layer of the M interconnect layers.
15. The structure of claim 13, wherein the funneled portion resides in K interconnect layers of the M interconnect layers, wherein K is an integer, and wherein 1<K<M.
16. The structure of claim 13, wherein the funneled light pipe comprises a transparent material whose refractive index is higher than a refractive index of a material of the BEOL layer.
17. The structure of claim 1, further comprising a light reflective layer on side walls of the funneled light pipe.
18. A semiconductor structure fabrication method, comprising:
providing a structure that includes (i) a semiconductor substrate, (ii) a photo collection region on the semiconductor substrate, and (iii) a BEOL (Back End Of Line) layer on the photo collection region and the semiconductor substrate;
etching the BEOL layer so as to form a funneled cavity in the BEOL layer, wherein a cross-section of the funneled cavity has a tapered shape;
after said etching the BEOL layer so as to form the funneled cavity in the BEOL layer, further etching the BEOL layer through the funneled cavity so as to form a cylindrical cavity in the BEOL layer, wherein the cylindrical cavity are directly above the photo collection region and directly beneath the funneled cavity; and
forming a funneled light pipe in the cylindrical cavity and the funneled cavity.
19. The method of claim 18, further comprising forming a color filter region on top of the funneled light pipe.
20. The method of claim 19, further comprising the step of forming a micro-lens on top of the color filter region.
21. The method of claim 18, further comprising the step of forming a micro-lens on top of the funneled light pipe region.
22. The method of claim 18, wherein said etching the BEOL layer so as to form the funneled cavity in the BEOL layer is isotropic etching.
23. The method of claim 22, wherein said further etching the BEOL layer through the funneled cavity so as to form the cylindrical cavity in the BEOL layer is anisotropic etching.
24. The method of claim 18, wherein said forming the funneled light pipe in the cylindrical cavity and the funneled cavity comprises filling the funneled cavity and the cylindrical cavity with a transparent material whose refractive index is higher than a refractive index of a material of the BEOL layer.
25. The method of claim 18, wherein said forming the funneled light pipe in the cylindrical cavity and the funneled cavity comprises:
forming a light reflective layer on side walls of the cylindrical cavity and the funneled cavity; and
after said forming the light reflective layer is performed, filling the funneled cavity and the cylindrical cavity with a transparent material.
26. A pixel sensing structure, comprising:
(a) a semiconductor substrate;
(b) a photo collection region on the semiconductor substrate;
(c) a BEOL (Back End Of Line) layer on the semiconductor substrate and the photo collection region; and
(d) a funneled light pipe on top of the photo collection region and in the BEOL layer, wherein the funneled light pipe comprises (i) a bottom cylindrical portion on top of the photo collection region of the photo collection region, (ii) a funneled portion which has a tapered shape and is on top and in direct physical contact with the bottom cylindrical portion, and (iii) a light reflective layer on side walls of the bottom cylindrical portion and the funneled portion.
27. The structure of claim 26, further comprising a color filter region on top of the funneled light pipe.
28. The structure of claim 27, further comprising a micro-lens on top of the color filter region.
29. The structure of claim 26, further comprising a micro-lens on top of the funneled light pipe.
30. The structure of claim 26, wherein a first horizontal cross-section of the funneled portion is larger in area than a second horizontal cross-section of the bottom cylindrical portion.
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