SANTA CLARA, Calif.--Applied Materials Inc. today announced successful demonstration of breakthrough defect-detection capabilities for semiconductors with 7:1 high aspect ratio structures, such as interconnect vias.
In evaluations of optical inspection technologies at International Sematech, Applied's multi-perspective laser-scanning system detected critical defects, such as 50-nanometer (0.05-micron) residue, in narrow via structures, according to the company. Applied said its technology detected critical defects in five categories considered to be yield limiting in 0.18-micron (180-nm) processes, based on Sematech's definitions.
Inspection of detects in high aspect ratio structures is considered a major hurdle in the industry's semiconductor technology roadmap. "With 100-nm device geometries on the technology horizon of the semiconductor roadmap, it is critical for us to determine the effectiveness of optical techniques in finding new defect types associated with high aspect ratio features," stated Rinn Cleavelin, the chief operating officer of Sematech in Austin, Tex.
Cleavelin said Applied's most advanced defect detection technology demonstrated the capability "to accurately and consistently detect these types of defects in high aspect ratio structures at the 180-nm technology node."
To evaluate high aspect ratio inspection (HARI), Sematech has developed test wafers and a special manufacturing process that induced anomalies, including defects and residue, at the bottom of vias. These processes also form device structures with missing and partially closed vias.
Applied said its technology successfully used laser scan and multi-perspective light collection to consistently identify via defects as well as critical defects in transistor gate and metal structures. The company also said it has already incorporated much of what it has learned from the tests into its new Compass wafer inspection system, which was introduced three months ago (see June 19 story).