An Si.sub.x N.sub.y or SiO.sub.x N.sub.y liner is formed on a MOS device. Cobalt is then deposited and reacts to form an epitaxial CoSi.sub.2 layer underneath the liner. The CoSi.sub.2 layer may be formed through a solid phase epitaxy or reactive deposition epitaxy salicide process. In addition to high quality epitaxial CoSi.sub.2 layers, the liner formed during the invention can protect device portions during etching processes used to form device contacts. The liner can act as an etch stop layer to prevent excessive removal of the shallow trench isolation, and protect against excessive loss of the CoSi.sub.2 layer.
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENT INTEREST
This invention was made with United States Government assistance through the U.S. Department of Energy, Grant No. DEFG02-ER-45439. The Government has certain rights in this invention.