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12 February 1997 Printability of 1 x reticle defects for submicron design rules
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As the push for improved resolution in wafer lithography intensifies and 0.18 micrometer devices are nearing production, the potential impact of subhalf micron reticle defects has become a growing concern. There have been several studies on the printability of subhalf-micron defects on high resolution reduction photolithography equipment. These studies have been extended to 1X lithography systems and more recently to advanced sub-micron 1X steppers. Previous studies have indicated that 0.20 micrometer opaque and 0.25 micrometer clear pinhole defects were at the margins of adversely impacting 0.65 micrometer lithography on a 1X stepper. However, due to the limited number of defects at these sizes on the reticle, definitive conclusions on printability could not be drawn. An additional study, using a three dimensional (3D) optical lithography simulation program, has shown defect size, proximity to an adjacent feature, and feature pitch to be significant factors contributing to reticle defect printability. Using the simulation findings as a guide, a new reticle was designed to contain an increased number of clear pinhole and opaque defects in the 0.15 to 0.30 micrometer range located in multiple pitches of both horizontal and vertical line/space pairs. Defect printability was determined using a 1X i-line projection stepper with focus and exposure optimized for nominal critical dimensions of 0.65 micrometer. The reticle and wafer defects were measured using low voltage SEM metrology. Simulation and experimental results have shown that pitch is the most significant contributor in the printability of clear pinhole, opaque, square and aspect ratio defects. In general, the impact of defect proximity to an adjacent feature is less extreme than the effect of pitch, but is more pronounced for clear pinhole defects. This study suggests that simulation can be a useful tool to help lithographers understand the behavior of reticle defects for particular layout design parameters. Consequently, simulation can be used to develop realistic reticle defect specifications with mask vendors, and improve cost-effectiveness. Defect printability simulation can also be used to predict the effect of known defects on existing reticles to determine if these reticles should be used for manufacturing.
© (1997) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Dan L. Schurz, Warren W. Flack, and Gary Newman "Printability of 1 x reticle defects for submicron design rules", Proc. SPIE 3236, 17th Annual BACUS Symposium on Photomask Technology and Management, (12 February 1997);

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