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Optical inspection system targets 2mµ wafer defects

Posted: 01 Dec 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:inspection system? wafer?

Altatech Semiconductor S.A. today introduced its new high-throughput AltaSight EyeEdge? inspection system, capable of detecting, identifying and generating images of defects as small as 2 microns along the edges of 300 mm semiconductor wafers, including silicon, compound semiconductor, SOI, quartz and transparent substrates. EyeEdge's applications include inspecting bare or patterned wafers, through silicon vias (TSVs) used in advanced 3D semiconductor integration, and thin-film layer overlap at the extreme edges (the crown or apex) of wafers.

Available as either a stand-alone tool or as a modular, fully retrofitable enhancement on Altatech Semiconductor's 300mm AltaSight platform, the new EyeEdge system maximizes device yield and profitability by finding and accurately classifying defects that other inspection schemes cannot. In addition, EyeEdge's throughput of 100 300-mm wafers per hour enables it to achieve higher productivity than other inspection systems on the market today.

"We developed EyeEdge based on close communications with our strategic partners in the semiconductor market, whose requirements for critical edge inspection and cost-of-ownership performance are incorporated into this new product," said Jean-Luc Delcarri, president of Altatech Semiconductor.

The company has installed two beta-site systems at customers' R&D laboratories, where the equipment is being qualified for use in volume production.

Designed for a wide range of users ? from wafer suppliers to integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) and foundries to product development laboratories ? EyeEdge is a fully automated defect-classification system. It comes standard with three high-speed optical sensors for single-pass inspection. Using Altatech Semiconductor's proprietary DeepSight? technology, these sensors collect sufficient data to define the size, shape and location of defects anywhere within 1.5 mm of a wafer's edge. EyeEdge then generates a three-dimensional image of each surface anomaly for easy classification.

"The ability to detect minute shifts in optical signals is critically important at the edges of wafers, where thin-film overlapping and delamination issues complicate the inspection process," Delcarri explained. "More expensive laser-scan inspection systems cannot discriminate between real defects and false, irrelevant signals. Faced with wafer-to-wafer variations, laser systems are not adaptive enough to continually changing noise/signal ratios. Furthermore, relying on scattered light information limits the ability to accurately classify defects in today's production environments."

EyeEdge is designed to accommodate an optional fourth optical sensor to analyze a programmable crown area on a wafer's frontside edge. While maintaining the system's processing accuracy and high throughput, this additional sensor enables EyeEdge to measure layer-overlapping control, providing a unique high-speed, low-cost solution to control insulating, barrier and seed layers, copper electroplating and chemical mechanical planarization (CMP), photoresist edge-bead removal (EBR) and edge-cleaning effectiveness.

EyeEdge is a stand-alone system, but can be added as a module onto the AltaSight platform to create a holistic system that can inspect a wafer's frontside, backside and edge simultaneously using a combination of reflectivity, topographical, dark-field and DeepSight technologies.

"This is another major milestone in our product development roadmap," said Delcarri. "We have fuelled our innovation with continued customer interaction and partnership and a large breadth of technologies in our IP portfolio. We have quickly converted them into productive products and brought them to the market. This is our DNA, and the demand is out there. As everyone is striving for improved performance, our engineering team, sales and support services are being expanded worldwide to solve our customers' challenges around the world."

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