With the nominal gate length at the 65 nm node being only 35 nm, controlling the critical dimension (CD) in polysilicon to within a few nanometers is essential to achieve a competitive power-to-performance ratio. Gate linewidths must be controlled, not only at the chip level so that the chip performs as the circuit designers and device engineers had intended, but also at the wafer level so that more chips with the optimum power-to-performance ratio are manufactured. Achieving tight across-chip linewidth variation (ACLV) and chip mean variation (CMV) is possible only if the mask-making, lithography, and etching processes are all controlled to very tight specifications.
This paper identifies the various ACLV and CMV components, describes their root causes, and discusses a methodology to quantify them. For example, the site-to-site ACLV component is divided into systematic and random sub-components. The systematic component of the variation is attributed in part to pattern density variation across the field, and variation in exposure dose across the slit. The paper demonstrates our team's success in achieving the tight gate CD tolerances required for 65 nm technology. Certain key challenges faced, and methods employed to overcome them are described. For instance, the use of dose-compensation strategies to correct the small but systematic CD variations measured across the wafer, is described. Finally, the impact of immersion lithography on both ACLV and CMV is briefly discussed.