Mask writers have evolved significantly in the last decade, and many modern ones include some level of process error correction. However, the feature sizes were shrinking at even faster rate, so the ratio of error to feature size has grown to a level that can no longer be ignored. Even “ideal” process will still produce some rounded contours on the mask. This paper discusses potential applications for the mask contour approximation, such as manufacturing rule check, inspection, metrology and mask error correction. We also discuss and compare possible approaches to generate the mask contours.
Time-to-mask (ttm) has been growing exponentially in the subwavelength era with the increased application of advanced RET's (Resolution Enhancement Technology). Not only are a greater number of design/mask layers impacted but more-and-more layers also have more severe restrictions on critical dimension uniformity (CDU) despite operating at a very low k1 factors necessitating rigorous but practical tolerancing. Furthermore, designs are also more complex, may be built up from blocks spanning different design styles, and occupy increasingly-large Rayleigh field areas. Given these factors and scales, it's no wonder that the cycle time for verification of a design following RET, is growing however it is doing so exponentially and that this is a critical factor impeding ttm. Until an unambiguously interprable and standard Mask Design Rule (MaskDR) set is created, neither the designer nor the mask supplier can reliably verify manufacturability of the mask for the simple reason that ambiguity and inter-rule conflict are at the source of the problem and that the problem increasingly requires cooperation spanning a large ecosystem of tool, IP, and mask suppliers all needing to essentially speak the same language. Since the 130 nm node, Texas Instruments has enforced a strict set of mask rule checks (MRCs) in their mask data preparation (MDP) flow based on MaskDRs negotiated with their mask suppliers. The purpose of this effort has been to provide an a-priori guarantee that the data shipped to the mask shop can be used to manufacture a mask reliably and with high yield both from a mask standpoint and from the silicon standpoint. As has been reported earlier, mask manufacturing rules are usually determined from assumed or experimentally acquired/validated mask-manufacturing limits. These rules are then applied during RET/MDP data treatment to guide and/or limit pattern correction strategies. With increasing RET and low-k1 lithography challenges, the importance of MRCs compounds. Furthermore, it will be necessary to comprehend certain MRC restrictions in the design flow as well as in the RET and MDP space. While mask tool manufacturers will need to be able specify tools specifications relevant to the MRCs for a particular mask shop flow, software tool suppliers, such as for RET, need to do so as well with tools which comprehend, check for, and enforce MRCs consistently. IDMs, foundaries, mask shops, EDA companies and tool suppliers will need a common language for the discussion on MaskDRs and MRCs in order to reach unambiguous convergence. Experience at Texas Instruments shows that accurate description, specification, and interpretation of MaskDRs and applying the associated MRCs is critical to a successful advanced mask technology strategy. This paper proposes the creation of a standard MaskDR lexicon. The goal of such a lexicon is the standardization of MaskDRs and their definitions such that interested parties from various mask-related disciplines can discuss, negotiate, specify, test and enforce MaskDRs unambiguously. We further propose that this standard be machine readable and directly usable without the necessity for intermediate interpretations. This lexicon would allow the designers, IDMs, foundaries, mask suppliers, and equipment suppliers to unambiguously negotiate and agree upon mask manufacturability requirements for their particular application.
There is a growing realization of the need for highly integrated solutions enabled by new bi-directional data 'pipes' between design and manufacturing. Traditional EDA applications should be able to communicate and collaborate with yield analysis software. Simply adding such capabilities to existing EDA applications is not feasible. Thus, there is a need for an infrastructure that would enable such interaction in a standard way. We call this infrastructure the DFM Platform.
In this article we present new approach to building such a platform. Brief descriptions of potential applications follow the platform architecture. "Via analysis" application includes test chips capabilities, critical area and critical parameter analysis to predict yield for a real design. The "DFM Cell Grading" module applies the concept of DFM to IP Libraries.