Nitrous oxide (N2O), often referred to as laughing gas, is used in the high-tech thin film industries of semiconductor and LCD display manufacturing. The primary application is the reaction with silane (SiH4) or other silicon precursors to produce high-quality oxide films (SiOx), which are used as electrical insulators in microelectronic transistors.
Nitrous oxide is increasingly used to make thin-film oxides with other elements like titanium, aluminum, magnesium, indium, and zirconium and is also used in the selective etching of semiconductor thin-films.
Why is this gas used in electronics manufacturing? It is less reactive, and therefore more selective, than oxygen. Often, this property is used to:
- Control the amount of oxygen in a thin film
- Reduce side oxidation reactions
- Selectively etch one thin film while allowing others to remain.
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