SANTA CLARA, Calif.--Applied Materials Inc. today said it was offering the industry's first fully-automated, three-dimensional CD-SEM metrology system for precise control of 193-nm wavelength lithography and etch processes used to fabricate ICs with 0.10-micron (100-nm) and below feature sizes.
The new NanoSEM 3D features a critical-dimension scanning electron microscope (CD-SEM) system that enables chip makers to automatically view and measure both the top and sides of device features, said Applied Materials. The company said the 3-D system rapidly captures excursions invisible to conventional top-view CD metrology tools.
"Using this system to detect slope problems very quickly after processing, chipmakers can control their lithography and etch processes before they lead to major yield losses," said Gilad Almogy, vice president of the Process, Diagnostics and Control Division at Applied. "The NanoSEM 3D system is the industry's first sub-100-nm-generation CD-SEM system that chip makers can use as their primary in-line metrology tool for profile analysis."
A prime focus of the NanoSEM 3D system is to address the challenges of providing automated measurements in 193-nm lithography and wafer etching processes as the depth of focus decreases and photoresist patterns shrink, said the Santa Clara-based company. Decreasing depth of focus creates sidewall slope angle variations in chip features that cannot be automatically monitored using existing CD-SEM metrology tools, said Applied.
The NanoSEM 3D system uses a broad range of multi-directional electron beam tilt angles to enable customers to automatically monitor the slope angles of critical features on every wafer, said Applied.
In addition, the NanoSEM 3D technology has been optimized to provide minimal photoresist shrinkage during measurement. Applied said the system also enables advanced etch processes, such as shallow trench isolation (STI), gate and dual-damascene applications by providing fast, in-line measurement and control of trench and via depth. Advanced pattern recognition algorithms enhance navigational accuracy in the system, said the company.
Production shipments of the NanoSEM 3D system are scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2002. Multiple systems have already been installed in customer fabs, including foundries and manufacturers of DRAM and logic devices, said Applied.