23 October 2015 Characterization and mitigation of relative edge placement errors (rEPE) in full-chip computational lithography
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Edge placement error (EPE) was a term initially introduced to describe the difference between predicted pattern contour edge and the design target. Strictly speaking this quantity is not directly measurable in the fab, and furthermore it is not ultimately the most important metric for chip yield. What is of vital importance is the relative EPE (rEPE) between different design layers, and in the era of multi-patterning, the different constituent mask sublayers for a single design layer. There has always been a strong emphasis on measurement and control of misalignment between design layers, and the progress in this realm has been remarkable, spurned in part at least by the proliferation of multi-patterning which reduces the available overlay budget by introducing a coupling of alignment and CD errors for the target layer.

In-line CD and overlay metrology specifications are typically established by starting with design rules and making certain assumptions about error distributions which might be encountered in manufacturing. Lot disposition criteria in photo metrology (rework or pass to etch) are set assuming worst case assumptions for CD and overlay respectively. For example poly to active overlay specs start with poly endcap design rules and make assumptions about active and poly lot average and across lot CDs, and incorporate general knowledge about poly line end rounding to ensure that leakage current is maintained within specification. This worst case guard banding does not consider specific chip designs, however and as we have previously shown full-chip simulation can elucidate the most critical "hot spots" for interlayer process variability comprehending the two-layer CD and misalignment process window. It was shown that there can be differences in X versus Y misalignment process windows as well as positive versus negative directional misalignment process windows and that such design specific information might be leveraged for manufacturing disposition and control schemes.

This paper will further investigate examples of via-metal model-based analysis of CD and overlay errors. We will investigate both single patterning and double patterning. For single patterning, we show the advantage of contour to contour simulation over contour to target simulation, and how the addition of aberrations in the optical models can provide a more realistic PW window for edge placement errors. For double patterning, the interaction of 4 layer CD and misalignment errors is very complex, but we illustrate that not only can full-chip verification identify potential rEPE hotspots, the OPC engine can act to mitigate such hotspots and enlarge the overall combined CD-overlay rEPE process window.
© (2015) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
John Sturtevant, John Sturtevant, Rachit Gupta, Rachit Gupta, Shumay Shang, Shumay Shang, Vlad Liubich, Vlad Liubich, James Word, James Word, } "Characterization and mitigation of relative edge placement errors (rEPE) in full-chip computational lithography", Proc. SPIE 9635, Photomask Technology 2015, 963505 (23 October 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2196634; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2196634


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