In the first part this complementary approach is applied to find an optimum thickness of a typical Ta-based absorber for imaging horizontal spaces through pitch. And although an absorber thickness of around 70 nm is found to be preferable for this particular application, the thickness choice leads to conflicting results for the general printability of 10 nm technology node features. Hence we show that a moderate reduction of the absorber thickness can be allowed when the mask bias of these features is optimized appropriately. The moderate thickness reduction already allows for the mitigation of some of the conflicting imaging aspects.
In the second part we expand the workflow by analyzing phase aberrations in n & k material space. This phase-based optical property screening shows that an alternative absorber based on materials such as Ni with k higher than Ta show superior best focus and contrast metrics. These alternative absorber embodiments would allow the overall reduction of M3D effects and adverse application dependencies of current Ta-based absorbers due to a combination of thickness reduction and enhancement of absorption.