18 March 2015 Pixel-based ant colony algorithm for source mask optimization
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Source mask optimization (SMO) was considered to be one of the key resolution enhancement techniques for node technology below 20 nm prior to the availability of extreme-ultraviolet tools. SMO has been shown to enlarge the process margins for the critical layer in SRAM and memory cells. In this study, a new illumination shape optimization approach was developed on the basis of the ant colony optimization (ACO) principle. The use of this heuristic pixel-based ACO method in the SMO process provides an advantage over the extant SMO method because of the gradient of the cost function associated with the rapid and stable searching capability of the proposed method. This study was conducted to provide lithographic engineers with references for the quick determination of the optimal illumination shape for complex mask patterns. The test pattern used in this study was a contact layer for SRAM design, with a critical dimension and a minimum pitch of 55 and 110 nm, respectively. The optimized freeform source shape obtained using the ACO method was numerically verified by performing an aerial image investigation, and the result showed that the optimized freeform source shape generated an aerial image profile different from the nominal image profile and with an overall error rate of 9.64%. Furthermore, the overall average critical shape difference was determined to be 1.41, which was lower than that for the other off-axis illumination exposure. The process window results showed an improvement in exposure latitude (EL) and depth of focus (DOF) for the ACO-based freeform source shape compared with those of the Quasar source shape. The maximum EL of the ACO-based freeform source shape reached 7.4% and the DOF was 56 nm at an EL of 5%.
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Hung-Fei Kuo, Hung-Fei Kuo, Wei-Chen Wu, Wei-Chen Wu, Frederick Li, Frederick Li, } "Pixel-based ant colony algorithm for source mask optimization", Proc. SPIE 9426, Optical Microlithography XXVIII, 94260M (18 March 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2085525; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2085525


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