The lithography challenges posed by the 20 nm and 14 nm nodes continue to place strict minimum feature size
requirements on photomasks. The wide spread adoption of very aggressive Optical Proximity Correction (OPC) and
computational lithography techniques that are needed to maximize the lithographic process window at 20 nm and 14 nm
groundrules has increased the need for sub-resolution assist features (SRAFs) down to 50 nm on the mask. In addition,
the recent industry trend of migrating to use of negative tone develop and other tone inversion techniques on wafer in
order to use bright field masks with better lithography process window is requiring mask makers to reduce the minimum
feature size of opaque features on the reticle such as opaque SRAFs. Due to e-beam write time and pattern fidelity
requirements, the increased use of bright field masks means that mask makers must focus on improving the resolution of
their negative tone chemically amplified resist (NCAR) process.
In this paper we will describe the development and characterization of a high resolution bright field mask process that is
suitable for meeting 20 nm and early 14 nm optical lithography requirements. Work to develop and optimize use of an
improved chrome hard mask material on the thin OMOG binary mask blank<sup>1</sup> in order to resolve smaller feature sizes on
the mask will be described. The improved dry etching characteristics of the new chrome hard mask material enabled the
use of a very thin (down to 65 nm) NCAR resist. A comparison of the minimum feature size, linearity, and through pitch
performance of different NCAR resist thicknesses will also be described. It was found that the combination of the
improved mask blank and thinner NCAR could allow achievement of 50 nm opaque SRAFs on the final mask.. In
addition, comparisons of the minimum feature size performance of different NCAR resist materials will be shown. A
description of the optimized cleaning processes and cleaning durability of the 50 nm opaque SRAFs will be provided.
Furthermore, the defect inspection results of the new high resolution mask process and substrate will be shared.