Defect-free masks are one of the top issues for enabling EUV lithography at the 32-nm node. Since a defect-free process cannot be expected, an understanding of the defect printability is required in order to derive critical defect sizes for the mask inspection and repair. Simulations of the aerial image are compared to the experimental printing in resist on the wafer. Strong differences between the simulations and the actual printing are observed. In particular the minimum printable defect size is much larger than expected which is explained in terms of resist resolution. The defect printability in the current configuration is limited by the resist process rather than the projection optics.
Several masks have been fabricated and exposed with the small-field Micro Exposure Tool (MET) at the Advanced Light Source (ALS) synchrotron in Berkeley using EUV radiation at 13.5 nm wavelength. Investigated mask types include two different absorber masks with TaN absorber as well as an etched multilayer mask. The resulting printing performance under different illumination conditions were studied by process window analysis on wafer level. Features with resolution of 60 nm and below were resolved with all masks. The TaN absorber masks with different stack thicknesses showed a similar size of process window. The differences in process windows for line patterns were analyzed for 60 nm patterns. The implications on the choice of optimum mask architecture are discussed.
Three different architectures were compared as candidates for EUV lithography masks. Binary masks were fabricated using two different stacks of absorber materials and using a selective etching process to directly pattern the multilayer of the mask blank. To compare the effects of mask architecture on resist patterning, all three masks were used to print features into photoresist on the EUV micro-exposure tool (MET) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Process windows, depth of focus, mask contrast at EUV, and horizontal and vertical line width bias were use as metrics to compare mask architecture. From printing experiments, a mask architecture using a tantalum nitride absorber stack exhibited the greatest depth of focus and process window of the three masks. Experimental results obtained using prototype masks are discussed in relation to simulations. After accounting for CD biasing on the masks, similar performance was found for all three mask architectures.