Modular OPC modeling, describing mask, optics, resist and etch processes separately is an approach to keep efforts for
OPC manageable. By exchanging single modules of a modular OPC model, a fast response to process changes during
process development is possible. At the same time efforts can be reduced, since only single modular process steps have
to be re-characterized as input for OPC modeling as the process is adjusted and optimized. Commercially available OPC
tools for full chip processing typically make use of semi-empirical models. The goal of our work is to investigate to what
extent these OPC tools can be applied for modeling of single process steps as separate modules. For an advanced gate
level process we analyze the modeling accuracy over different process conditions (focus and dose) when combining
models for each process step - optics, resist and etch - for differing single processes to a model describing the total
For state of the art technologies, rule based optical proximity correction (OPC) together with conventional illumination is commonly used for contact layers, because it is simple to handle and processing times are short. However, as geometries are getting smaller it becomes more difficult to accurately control critical dimension (CD) variations influenced by nearby pattern. This applies in particular for irregularly arranged contact holes. Here simulation based OPC is more effective. We present a procedure for application of simulation based OPC for a 193 nm lithography contact hole layer with rectangular contact holes of different sizes in different proximities, using attenuated phase shift masks. In order to further improve the accuracy of the simulation based OPC process, characteristics of the mask, like mask corner rounding are incorporated in the OPC process. We build an OPC model, use it for OPC processing of DRAM design data and investigate the process window of the printing contacts. The results show an overlapping process window for length and width of isolated and dense small contact holes of different length and width, which is sufficient for volume production.
In times of continuing aggressive shrinking of chip layouts a thorough understanding of the pattern transfer process from layout to silicon is indispensable. We analyzed the most prominent effects limiting the control of this process for a contact layer like process, printing 140nm features of variable length and different proximity using 248nm lithography. Deviations of the photo mask from the ideal layout, in particular mask off-target and corner rounding have been identified as clearly contributing to the printing behavior. In the next step, these deviations from ideal behavior have been incorporated into the optical proximity correction (OPC) modeling process. The degree of accuracy for describing experimental data by simulation, using an OPC model modified in that manner could be increased significantly. Further improvement in modeling the optical imaging process could be accomplished by taking into account lens aberrations of the exposure tool. This suggests a high potential to improve OPC by considering the effects mentioned, delivering a significant contribution to extending the application of OPC techniques beyond current limits.
By approaching the physical resolution limits of optical lithography for a given wavelength, data complexity on certain layers of chip layouts increases, while feature sizes decrease. This becomes even more apparent when introducing optical enhancement techniques. At the same time, more and more complex procedures to fracture mask data out of a DRC clean chip-GDS2 require checks on mask data regarding integrity, as well as mask manufacturability and inspectability. To avoid expensive redesigns and large mask house cycle times it is important to find shortcomings before the data are submitted to the mask house. As an approach to the situation depicted, a (Mask) Manufacturing Rule Check (MRC) can be introduced. Aggressive Optical Proximity Correction (OPC) is a special challenge for mask making. Recently, special algorithms for mask inspection of OPC assist features have been implemented by equipment vendors. Structures smaller than two inspection pixels, like assist structures, can be successfully inspected with certain algorithms. The impact of those algorithms on mask pattern requirements and suitable MRC adoptions will be discussed in the present paper.