RIE Technology and Applications

Plasma etching allows for the removal of etching of various surfaces in vacuum-based techniques, and reactive ion etching (RIE) is used for semiconductor device manufacturing, making it a specialty machine. With the aid of reactive ion etching, it is possible to etch materials by accelerating ions toward the substrate.

As mentioned above, reactive ion etching is used in vacuum-based techniques, and the necessary equipment for RIE is mounted around vacuum chambers. The reactive ion etching equipment includes two electrodes (anode and cathode) that create an electric field around the vacuum chamber.  

The electric field accelerates the ions they produce toward the substrate surface, and when process gases go into the vacuum chamber through the top electrode. The reactor is then evacuated by a special vacuum pump.

During the etching process, samples are masked by patterning processes and then placed inside the vacuum chamber. Then, gases are introduced into the vacuum chamber and activated by microwave or RF power. The power surge produces plasma that consists of ions, electrons, and reactive species.

The energy that the reactive ion etching equipment produces enhances the chemical reaction's effectiveness and creates the direction in which the etching will occur.

The reactive ion etching equipment is applied for the etching of various materials and particles, including the following:

  • Silicon-based materials
  • Metals
  • Dielectric materials
  • III-V materials

Based on process parameters, one can optimize and adjust settings in the RIE equipment, such as pressure, gas flow, RF power, etc. Also, the types of film that meant to be etched should also be considered when designing process chemistries.

For instance, metal etching requires chlorine-based chemistries and dielectric etch applications require fluorine-based chemistries.

To achieve the desired results, it is necessary to use the most suitable reactive ion etching equipment for the materials applied in the process.


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