Today KLA-Tencor Corporation announced NanoPoint™, a new family of patented technologies for its 2900 Series defect inspection system. NanoPoint represents an entirely new way to discover and monitor defects, at optical speed and on existing optical defect inspection equipment.
NanoPoint's value has already been demonstrated on early metal layers, where line-edge roughness (LER) on dense pattern had previously limited the ability to detect tiny yield-killing defects inline at advanced nodes.
"Our customers are highly motivated to continue to extend optical inline defect inspection beyond the 20nm node," said Keith Wells , vice president and general manager of the Wafer Inspection (WIN) Division at KLA-Tencor. "They want the speed and baseline preservation that only optical inspection can provide—and our challenge is to design equipment that can discover defects whose size is further and further below the inspection wavelength. In the past we have offered various improvements to the light source, optics and other subsystems, but NanoPoint addresses the issue from a new angle. Based on customer feedback, I believe that NanoPoint is a breakthrough technology with the potential for applicability across a broad range of layers and process modules."
NanoPoint focuses the resources of the optical inspection system on critical patterns, as identified either by circuit designers or by known defect sites. During chip development, NanoPoint can reveal the need for mask re-design within hours, potentially accelerating the identification and resolution of design issues from months to days. During volume production, NanoPoint can selectively track defectivity within critical patterns—allowing process monitoring with sensitivity and speed far beyond the industry's experience to date.
Backed by several new patents, the NanoPoint technology is a product of KLA-Tencor's commitment to long-term R&D, within both the WIN Division and KT Labs, the research arm of the office of the Chief Technology Officer, Ben Tsai , Ph.D. Multiple NanoPoint systems have been installed at leading logic, foundry and memory chip manufacturers in North America, Europe and Asia. To learn more about the NanoPoint technology, please visit KLA-Tencor's 2900 Series product web page.