A strategy for sub-100 nm technology nodes is to maximize the use of high-speed deep-UV laser pattern generators, reserving e-beam tools for the most critical photomask layers. With a 248 nm excimer laser and 0.82 NA projection optics, the Sigma7500 increases the application space of laser pattern generators. A programmable spatial light modulator (SLM) is imaged with partially coherent optics to compose the photomask pattern. Image profiles are enhanced with phase shifting in the pattern generator, and features below 200 nm are reliably printed. The Sigma7500 extends the SLM-based architecture with improvements to CD uniformity and placement accuracy, resulting from an error budget-based methodology. Among these improvements is a stiffer focus stage design with digital servos, resulting in improved focus stability. Tighter climate controls and improved dose control reduce drift during mask patterning. As a result, global composite CD uniformity below 5 nm (3σ) has been demonstrated, with placement accuracy below 10 nm (3σ) across the mask. Self-calibration methods are used to optimize and monitor system performance, reducing the need to print test plates. The SLM calibration camera views programmed test patterns, making it possible to evaluate image metrics such as CD uniformity and line edge roughness. The camera is also used to characterize image placement over the optical field. A feature called ProcessEqualizerTM has been developed to correct long-range CD errors arising from process effects on production photomasks. Mask data is sized in real time to compensate for pattern-dependent errors related to local pattern density, as well as for systematic pattern-independent errors such as radial CD signatures. Corrections are made in the pixel domain in the advanced adjustments processor, which also performs global biasing, stamp distortion compensation, and corner enhancement. In the Sigma7500, the mask pattern is imaged with full edge addressability in each writing pass, providing the means of additionally improving write time by reducing the number of exposure passes. Photomask write time is generally under two hours in the 2-pass mode, compared to three hours with 4-pass writing. With a through-the-lens alignment system and both grid matching and pattern matching capabilities, the tool is also suitable for 2nd layer patterning in advanced PSM applications. Improvements in alignment algorithms and writing accuracy have resulted in first-to-second level overlay below 15 nm (mean+3σ).
With each new technology generation, photomask manufacturing faces increasing complexity due to shrinking designs and accelerating use of reticle enhancement techniques. Denser and more complex patterns on the mask result in lower yields and long write and turn-around times, important factors for the rapidly increasing mask related costs in IC manufacturing. Laser pattern generators operating at DUV wavelengths were recently introduced to provide cost effective alternatives to electron-beam systems for printing of high-end photomasks. DUV wavelengths provide the required resolution and pattern fidelity. Optical tools that use raster writing principles and massively parallel printing ensure short and predictable write times for photomasks almost independent of pattern complexity.
One such high-volume production system, the Sigma7300, uses spatial light modulator (SLM) technology and a 248 nm excimer laser for printing. Partially coherent imaging and multi-pass printing as in a lithography scanner further increases resolution and pattern accuracy. With four-pass printing the system provides resolution and pattern accuracy meeting mask requirements for critical layers at the 90-nm node and sub-critical layers at the 65-nm node and beyond.
The paper discusses how mask layout can be optimized to take full advantage of the speed potential provided by the SLM-based writer. It shows how flexible use of the writing principle can provide cost effective writing solutions for many layers in high-end mask sets. Resolution and pattern accuracy results from the Sigma7300 will be presented together with write times for different types of designs.
This paper presents the properties of a second-generation DUV laser pattern generator based on spatial light modulator technology and designed to meet the requirements of the 90-nm to 65-nm technology nodes. The system, named Sigma7300, is described and major changes compared to its predecessor are pointed out. These changes result in improved pattern accuracy and fidelity as well as system reliability and maintenance. This improved performance is accompanied with greatly reduced writing times of typically 3 Hrs. per mask. Performance data is presented that shows the system meets the resolution requirement of 260 nm with CD linearity of 10 nm and assist line resolution of 140 nm. CD uniformity data and registration data are also presented that indicates that the system meets the requirements for most layers at the 90-nm and 65-nm nodes.
The recently installed Sigma7100 laser pattern generator brings a new concept into photomask manufacturing. The spatial light modulator (SLM) technology enables 2D patterning using commercially available 248 nm lasers. This wavelength shift from the 413 nm wavelength of the Omega6000 scanning laser pattern generators facilitates the high resolution needed for 100 nm mask production. In addition, the partially coherence of the 2D patterning further enhances CD linearity and edge acuity. The rapidly increasing mask costs are partially attributed to increasing photomask writing times. These tend to increase as feature density increases with the roadmap, which is a challenge for any pattern generator with a limited number of writing beams. Instead, the SLM technology relies on the massive parallelism of one million micromirrors in combination with gray-scale control for fine addressing. A real-time FPGA-based data-rendering engine matches the speed. The result is pattern generation with high resolution at manageable mask writing times
Micronic is developing a massively parallel pattern generation system based on a micro-mechanical spatial light modulator (SLM). The electro-mechanical and optical properties of the micromirrors in the SLM can vary from one to another and over time. Therefore the response of each mirror must be calibrated, with accuracy sufficient to maintain CD uniformity requirements. We present a practical method for performing this calibration which greatly improves the micromirror grayscale uniformity and reduces CD error contribution from the SLM to less than 2nm.
Pattern generation founded on micro-mirror spatial light modulator (SLM) imaging presents a way to manage the decreasing feature sizes and increasing pattern complexities dictated by Moore's law. This paper identifies the critical elements of the imaging in the implementation of such a pattern generator. We show how the laser illumination, SLM chip, and optics collectively generate the image, and in particular, that these elements can be manufactured and integrated to specification. Expected deficiencies and variations in image quality are then effectively countered with calibration routines that bring final performance to within lithographic requirements, while also being manageable in design and turn-around-times.