In this paper, we introduce a novel hybrid predictive patterning method combining two patterning technologies which have each individually been widely used for process tuning, mask correction and process-design cooptimization. These technologies are rigorous lithography simulation and inverse lithography technology (ILT). Rigorous lithography simulation has been extensively used for process development/tuning, lithography tool user setup, photoresist hot-spot detection, photoresist-etch interaction analysis, lithography-TCAD interactions/sensitivities, source optimization and basic lithography design rule exploration. ILT has been extensively used in a range of lithographic areas including logic hot-spot fixing, memory layout correction, dense memory cell optimization, assist feature (AF) optimization, source optimization, complex patterning design rules and design-technology co-optimization (DTCO). The combined optimization capability of these two technologies will therefore have a wide range of useful applications. We investigate the benefits of the new functionality for a few of these advanced applications including correction for photoresist top loss and resist scumming hotspots.
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