Immersion exposure system with the numerical aperture (NA) greater than unity effectively extends the printing resolution limit without the need of shrinking the exposure wavelength. From the perspective of imaging contact hole mask, we are convinced that a mature ArF immersion exposure system will be able to meet 45nm node manufacturing requirement. However, from a full-chip mask data processing point of view, a more challenging question could be: how to ensure the intended RET mask to best achieve a production worthy solution? At 45nm, we are using one-fourth of the exposure wavelength for the patterning; there is very little room for error. For full-chip, especially for contact hole mask, we need a robust RET mask strategy to ensure sufficient CD control. A production-worthy RET mask technology should have good imaging performance with advanced exposure system; and, it should base on currently available mask blank material and be compatible with the existing mask making process.
In this work, we propose a new type of contact hole RET masks that is capable of 45nm node full-chip manufacturing. Three types of potential RET masks are studied. The 1st type is the conventional 6% attenuated PSM (attPSM) with 0-phase Scattering Bars (SB). The 2nd type is to use CPL mask with both 0- and π-phase SB, and their relative placements are based on interference mapping lithography (IML) under optimized illumination. The 3rd type, here named as 6% CPL, can be thought of as a CPL mask type with 6% transmission on the background but with π-phase SB only. Of those three RET masks, 6% CPL mask has the best performance for printing 45nm contact and via masks.
To implement 6% CPL for contact and via mask design, we study several critical process steps starting from the illumination optimization, model-based SB OPC, 3D mask effect, quartz etch depth optimization, side-lobe printability verification, and then to the mask making flow. Additionally, we investigate printability for through-pitch contact array, and random contact design. To characterize the printing performance, we use MEEF, and process window (PW) to analyze the simulation data. We conclude that the 45nm node contact hole imaging is well within reach using a mature ArF immersion exposure tool with a robust and well integrated RET mask scheme.