Inc. today announced its Applied Aera2(TM) for Lithography system. Using
the system's IntenCD(TM) technology in the fab, semiconductor manufacturers
can improve wafer critical dimension uniformity (CDU) by more than 20%, increasing
device yield and lowering the per-wafer cost of patterning. In addition, the
Aera2 for Lithography can be used to extend photomask lifetime and bring productivity
gains to the entire lithography cell.
"CD uniformity specifications are very tight at the 45nm node and below,
especially for double patterning, and at least half of the variation in CD comes
from the mask," said Tom St. Dennis, senior vice president and general
manager of Applied Materials' Silicon Systems group. "By taking
Applied's proven aerial imaging technology into the lithography cell we're
enabling chipmakers to track and correct for changes in photomask quality, leading
to more accurate patterning, shorter cycle times and greater mask availability."
Key to this new lithography application is the Aera2 platform's IntenCD
technology that creates high precision, high definition CDU maps from the aerial
image of an entire reticle. By replacing wafer-based measurements with IntenCD
maps, the time to decision shrinks from two days to as little as an hour, and
accuracy improves by eliminating cumulative errors that can arise from multiple
wafer processing steps. The improved uniformity data allows advanced scanners
to compensate for CD variations, delivering major improvements in linewidth
accuracy on product wafers and ultimately, increased yield.
Regularly inspecting masks within the fab using the IntenCD technology can
stretch photomask lifetime significantly, a compelling benefit in an era when
a single mask for a critical device layer can cost more than $100,000. Mask
properties change dynamically and non-uniformly with cumulative exposure, inducing
CD errors from haze defect growth and pellicle degradation. By replacing traditional
fixed mask reconditioning intervals with predictive scheduling, fab managers
can use the Aera2 system to minimize mask reconditioning cycles, increasing
mask lifetime and availability.
To optimize cycle time, the industry-leading Applied Tetra™ Reticle Clean
system can also be added to the lithography cell, eliminating the need to send
masks outside the fab for reconditioning. The Aera2 for Lithography and the
Tetra Reticle Clean are Applied's most recent additions to its strong, proven
line-up of solutions to enable cost-effective patterning of next-generation
devices. For more information on the Applied Aera2 for Lithography, visit: www.appliedmaterials.com/products/mask_inspection_4.html.