Rheologica Acta

, Volume 51, Issue 7, pp 637–647 | Cite as

Shear thickening of chemical mechanical polishing slurries under high shear

  • Nathan C. Crawford
  • S. Kim R. Williams
  • David Boldridge
  • Matthew W. Liberatore
Original Contribution


Chemical mechanical polishing (CMP) is a fundamental technology used in the semiconductor manufacturing industry to polish and planarize electronic materials. During the high shear (≥1,000,000 s − 1) polishing process, it is hypothesized that individual slurry particles begin to interact and collide with one another forming large agglomerates (≥0.5 μm). These agglomerates are suspected of causing defects such as scratches or gouges during polishing, which costs the semiconductor industry billions of dollars annually. We have developed a method for investigating the shear thickening behavior of fumed silica slurries (20–34 wt.%) under high shear using a parallel-plate geometry in a conventional rotating rheometer. The CMP slurries displayed irreversible thickening at shear rates exceeding 10,000 s − 1. Viscous heating and sample evaporation are shown to be inconsequential to the witnessed shear thickening behavior. Also, the observed thickening is not a result of a critical rheometer speed, as the thickening was independent of the experimental gap height. In agreement with previous work, the slurries thickened at lower shear rates as silica concentration was increased. The shear thickening of the fumed silica slurries is truly shear-induced, and therefore, the thickening of CMP slurries can be examined using a rotational rheometer at small gap heights (≤100 μm).


Shear thickening Chemical mechanical polishing Fumed silica Rheology High shear 



The authors would like to thank the National Science Foundation (CBET-0968042) for providing the funding for this work. Also, we acknowledge Cabot Microelectronics Corporation for supplying the slurries and for allowing us to share our findings.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathan C. Crawford
    • 1
  • S. Kim R. Williams
    • 2
  • David Boldridge
    • 3
  • Matthew W. Liberatore
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemical and Biological EngineeringColorado School of MinesGoldenUSA
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry and GeochemistryColorado School of MinesGoldenUSA
  3. 3.Cabot Microelectronics CorporationAuroraUSA

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