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Migration to Copper for High End Memory Devices Continues to Grow Relying on Tighter Process Control

Published on July 7, 2009 at 6:07 AM

Nova Measuring Instruments Ltd. (NASDAQ: NVMI) provider of leading edge stand-alone metrology and the market leader of integrated metrology solutions to the semiconductor process control market today announced that its NovaScan Integrated Metrology solution has been deployed for Copper process control at two leading flash memory manufacturers. The multiple NovaScan Integrated Metrology installations took place during the first half of 2009. The Company also reported more orders received at the beginning of July for similar tools from a major foundry which the Company will deliver in the third quarter of 2009.

By accurately measuring the Copper line thickness using NovaScan Optical CD and by deploying Advanced Process Control (APC) the Copper process variability was reduced by 30%. Collaboration with the customers also demonstrated a potential of further reducing process variability by measuring the Copper trench depth with a NovaScan stand-alone tool after Etch and feeding the result forward to CMP.

"As part of the move to the 50nm and 40nm technology nodes, memory manufacturers start integrating Copper into their devices and Optical CD provides a useful means to measure and control relevant steps in the process" said Noam Shintel, Director of Corporate marketing at Nova. "With our solution already deployed in foundries and given the rapid proliferation of Copper to the memory sector, I see a great potential for our metrology solutions. By deploying Nova's metrology together with wafer to wafer process control, memory manufacturers can significantly improve their Copper process and reduce Copper process variability by dozens of percentage points."

Flash Copper process control is as demanding as logic process control. It is critical to control the Copper line's resistivity and therefore precisely control the Copper line profile which determines the chip's resistivity. Topography effects like dishing and erosion affect the device parasitic capacitance, leakage power and yield. At advanced technology nodes smaller CD's and increased density cause defects such as barrier residues while voids in the Copper fill become dominant in deterring yield.

NovaScan Integrated Metrology featuring industry leading reliability and throughput of less than one second Move Acquire Measure (MAM) time, coupled with NovaMARS 2D and 3D modeling software, provides the capability to accurately measure the Copper line profile, dishing, erosion, barrier residues and other Copper process parameters without affecting the overall cycle time or reducing Polisher speed.

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