System Addresses Critical Edge and Backside Defectivity Issues in 45 nm and 32 nm Manufacturing

Rudolph Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: RTEC), a worldwide leader in process characterization solutions for the semiconductor manufacturing industry, today announced the shipment of its new Explorer™ Inspection Cluster to a major chip manufacturer located in Japan.

The Explorer Inspection Cluster meets the I.C. industry’s need for an edge and backside inspection system with low cost-of-ownership to solve critical defectivity issues in advanced manufacturing processes. Rudolph pioneered the field of edge and backside inspection, now in its third generation, with over 120 modules in the field.

“We are very pleased to see rapid acceptance of the new Explorer in spite of the currently challenging market conditions,” said Ardy Johnson, Rudolph’s vice president of marketing. “Controlling edge and backside defectivity has become one of the critical factors for enabling 45 nm and 32 nm processes, and the Explorer offers the right combination of sensitivity and cost of ownership to address these issues. In addition, our Discover™ data analysis software, offered as an option, further enhances efficiency by finding and classifying defect pattern signatures, thus eliminating the time-consuming task of classifying thousands of individual defects. The Explorer Inspection Cluster can be configured with the optimum combination of inspection capabilities to minimize cost-of-ownership and maximize return on investment.”

The Explorer’s flexible cluster design allows manufacturers to configure frontside, edge and backside inspection capabilities to meet specific process requirements. The edge (E30) and backside (B30) modules both use image-based inspection to provide a much richer data set than light scattering techniques, thereby enhancing accuracy in the sizing and classifying of defects. The improved sensitivity of the E/B permits the detection of defects down to 2 µm and 3 µm, respectively, on patterned wafers. The E30 module also provides metrology capability for the edge bevel profile and for multi-film edge bead removal and bevel clean processes. When the E30 and B30 modules are paired with the AXi940™ frontside module, the system can provide the all-surface data to correlate wafer edge and backside inspection results with improved yield.

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