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IMEC Extends its EUV Lithography Research Program

Published on July 14, 2009 at 10:46 AM

IMEC today announced that it is extending its EUV (extreme ultra-violet) lithography research program with a parallel dedicated EUV mask cleaning research program. The program will build on a new collaboration between IMEC and HamaTech APE GmbH + Co. KG. HamaTech's MaskTrack Pro® photomask processing system has been selected as the cleaning tool of record and will be installed at IMEC's 300mm clean room where the companies will perform collaborative research to reach the stringent mask integrity requirements of EUV lithography. This collaboration enables IMEC to offer interested partners innovative mask cleaning technology to develop processes of record (PORs) to extend their EUV lithography research.

Unlike photomasks used in optical lithography today, EUV masks will most likely not have pellicles making the mask sensitive to particle and organic contamination. Consequently, cleaning EUV masks close to Point-of-Exposure in the wafer fab reduces the risk of yield loss due to added particles or organic contamination growth.

IMEC's mask cleaning program will develop processes of record (PORs) for EUV mask cleaning that are effective in removing the contamination of interest yet are gentle enough to be applied repeatedly without reducing mask lifetime. Additional investigation and optimization of EUV reticle back-side cleaning processes which do not influence the front-side will, as part of the overall mask cleaning program, assist to keep the overlay performance of the EUV scanner in spec

Kurt Ronse, program director advanced lithography at IMEC said, “Over the last year, we achieved major progress on resist for EUV but pristine, defect-free masks at point-of-exposure have become an increasing concern in advancing EUV towards pilot production in 2010. Therefore, we will extend our program with mask cleaning research to offer our partners advanced research on one of the critical EUV mask related issues in EUV lithography. The installation of the MaskTrack Pro and our on-going collaborative research efforts with the HamaTech team ensures that a complete mask integrity infrastructure is available for interested partners at IMEC's 300mm research facility before end 2009.”

MaskTrack Pro combines the performance of the MaskTrack tool with innovative cleaning technology and a sophisticated system design for a holistic approach of mask integrity, focused on 193i 22nm half pitch double patterning, EUV and Nano-Imprint lithography technologies. The system features Focused Spot CleaningTM for precise removal of particles in defined areas of the mask, saving significant time after repair and eliminating the toughest overlay issues caused by backside contamination. A unique combination of physical and chemical cleaning technologies have demonstrated a highly-effective removal of organic and inorganic contamination without damage to the vulnerable absorber and capping layer (SPIE, March 2009). MaskTrack Pro's holistic approach to mask integrity ensures that the reticle is defect-free at exposure, offering customers a dramatic increase in exposure tool availability and uptime.

“We are very pleased to collaborate with IMEC on critical mask cleaning technology for next generation lithography processes,” said Wilma Koolen-Hermkens, CEO of HamaTech APE. “The MaskTrack Pro, is the first system in the industry that can address EUVL zero tolerance levels for particles and defects on the mask prior to exposure. With a world class design, the MaskTrack Pro allows clustering of metrology systems and pod-in-pod stocking for a holistic mask management approach throughout the life of the mask. IMEC is our partner of choice to jointly develop the necessary PORs for our valued customers.”

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