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Inspection system for 65nm photomasks

Posted: 21 Feb 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:STARlight-2? inspection system? photomask? 65nm? XRET?

KLA-Tencor unveiled the STARlight-2 inspection system for all types of photomasks, including that of the extreme resolution enhancement technique (XRET) at the 65nm node and below. According to the press release, the new system's inspection capabilities are designed for the detection of progressive defectsan increasingly critical class of yield killers that significantly impact device yield over time and can cause device reliability problems.

Process challenges today include more than just zero-yield occurrences. Chipmakers are challenged by more gradual yield roll-off affects performance and profit parts, said KLA-Tencor. Crystal growth, haze and other progressive defects that cause this problem are said to be escalating. These contaminants form on photomasks from a variety of sources within the mask shop and wafer fab environments. Over time, they grow and multiply as the photomask undergoes constant lithographic exposure, reducing the lithography process window more and more. This increases the risk of devices not meeting performance specifications and having reliability problems. The combination of 193nm lithography and 300mm wafer processing are said to worsen progressive defects since the photomasks endure longer periods of exposure at higher energycreating an incubator for these contaminants. The company claims that STARlight-2 detects these defects before they collapse the lithography process window. KLA-Tencor added that the design of STARlight-2 provides the capabilities needed to meet the challenges associated with 65nm designs, including new XRET strategies and the increase in feature packing density.

The product's smaller pixel sizes (125nm and 90nm) are said to provide the resolution and sensitivity needed to detect mask contaminants on device layers with the smallest pattern features before they affect the process window or print on the wafer. STARlight-2's algorithms also enable contamination detection in high-density patterned areas, which are typically found on XRET masks, and its full-field inspection capability allows inspection in scribes and borderswhere progressive defects generally first emergeas well as on both single-die and multi-die photomasks.

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