Double patterning is one of the most promising lithography techniques for sub-40nm half-pitch device
manufacturing. Several variations of double patterning processes have been reported by research groups, including a
dual-trench process (litho-etch-litho-etch) and a dual-line process (litho-litho-etch). Between these, the dual-line process
attracts the most attention because it is a simple process and achieves high throughput. However, there is concern that
the second lithography process damages the first lithography patterns in the dual-line process. Therefore, new
technology must be developed to keep the configuration of first lithography patterns during the second lithography step,
and to make this patterning process practical.
Recently, we succeeded in forming 32 nm half-pitch LS lithography patterns by the introduction of a new "freezing"
step. This step involves covering the first lithography pattern with a chemical freezing material to prevent damage by the
second lithography process. This process, the so called "litho-freezing-litho-etch" process, will achieve higher
throughput and lower cost compared to litho-etch-litho-etch.
In this study, the performance of this chemical freezing double patterning process is investigated for various
applications using a hyper NA immersion exposure tool. Imaging results including process window and etching results
of sub-30nm half-pitch LS and 40nm half-pitch CH with this freezing process are shown. Additionally, items such as
critical dimension uniformity and defect inspection using the freezing process were reviewed.