Top coat process is required for immersion lithography in order to prevent both the chemical contamination of scanner optics with eluted chemicals from resist material and the formation of residual droplet under the immersion exposure with high scanning speed. However, defect density of ArF immersion lithography with alkaline developer soluble type top coat material is much higher than that of ArF dry lithography. Mimic immersion experiments comprised of soaking of exposed conventional dry ArF resist with purified water followed by drying step were performed in order to study the immersion specific defects. It was suggested that the origin of immersion specific defects with alkaline developer soluble type top coat was the remaining water on and in the permeable top coat layer that might interfere the desired deprotection reaction of resist during post exposure bake (PEB). Therefore, application of post exposure rinse process that can eliminate the impact of the residual micro water droplets before PEB is indispensable for defect reduction. Post exposure rinse with optimized purified water dispense sequence was noticed to be valid for defect reduction in mimic immersion lithography, probably in actual immersion lithography.
In the past several years, ArF immersion lithography has been developed rapidly for practical applications. One of the most important topics is the elucidation of a mechanism and its solution of immersion specific defects. In this paper, we report several analytical results of immersion specific defects. First, we classify several possible origins of specific defects that are proposed based on our experiment on the actual immersion process and previous literature. We focused on a droplet of immersion water that was the origin of circular and deformed circular-type defects. Further, a watermark (WM) was created on some types of film stacks with or without the topcoat (TC) on the resist. We observed that all samples exhibited the trace of the WM. From chemical surface analyses, we obtained different types of components in the residue of the WM, which dried spontaneously. These components depended on the tested film stack. Some types were not always derived from leaching materials in the resist. Some components in the residue appeared to be airborne contaminants that were unregulated in machines used in the photolithography process. Based on the results of these tests, we discussed some methods for avoiding defects according to the droplet WM.
As a powerful candidate for a lithography technique that can accommodate the scaling-down of semiconductors, 193-nm immersion lithography-which realizes a high numerical aperture (NA) and uses deionized water as the medium between the lens and wafer in the exposure system-has been developing at a rapid pace and has reached the stage of practical application. In regards to defects that are a cause for concern in the case of 193-nm immersion lithography, however, many components are still unclear and many problems remain to be solved. It has been pointed out, for example, that in the case of 193-nm immersion lithography, immersion of the resist film in deionized water during exposure causes infiltration of moisture into the resist film, internal components of the resist dissolve into the deionized water, and residual water generated during exposure affects post-processing. Moreover, to prevent this influence of directly immersing the resist in de-ionized water, application of a protective film is regarded as effective. However, even if such a film is applied, it is still highly likely that the above-mentioned defects will still occur. Accordingly, to reduce these defects, it is essential to identify the typical defects occurring in 193-nm immersion lithography and to understand the condition for generation of defects by using some kinds of protective films and resist materials. Furthermore, from now onwards, with further scaling down of semiconductors, it is important to maintain a clear understanding of the relation between defect-generation conditions and critical dimensions (CD). Aiming to extract typical defects occurring in 193-nm immersion lithography, the authors carried out a comparative study with dry exposure lithography, thereby confirming several typical defects associated with immersion lithography. We then investigated the conditions for generation of defects in the case of some kinds of protective films. In addition to that, by investigating the defect-generation conditions and comparing the classification data between wet and dry exposure, we were able to determine the origin of each particular defect involved in immersion lithography. Furthermore, the comparison of CD for wet and dry processing could indicate the future defectivity levels to be expected with shrinking immersion process critical dimensions.
193 nm lithography is one of the most promising technologies for next-generation lithography and is being actively evaluated for making it practicable <sup>(1,2)</sup>. First, we evaluated an immersion lithography tool (engineering evaluation tool (EET)) <sup>(3)</sup> and a dry lithography tool (S307E) with the same numerical aperture (NA = 0.85), manufactured by Nikon Corporation. As a result, an increase in the depth of focus (DOF) of the EET to 200 nm in comparison with the DOF (110 nm) of the dry exposure tool was confirmed in a 90 nm isolated space pattern. Next, the optical proximity effect (OPE) in this pattern was evaluated. Generally, when an immersion lithography tool is compared with a dry one with the same NA or both the tools, only an increase in the DOF is found. However, we confirmed that the OPE (The OPE of the 90 nm isolated space pattern is defined as the difference in the space width between a dense space and an isolated space.) of the dry exposure tool for the 90 nm isolated space pattern reduced from 33.1 nm to 14.1 nm by immersion lithography. As the effect of the reduction of 19 nm, the OPE reduced to 15.2 nm by the effect of the top coatings (TCs) and to 3.8 nm by the optical characteristics. An impact of about 5 nm on the OPE was confirmed by the process parameters-film thickness and the pre-bake temperature of the TC. In the case that the solvent was replaced with a high boiling point solvent, the impact changed from 5 to 20 nm further, the replacement of the solvent had a considerable impact on the OPE. However, this influence differs considerably according to the kind of resists; further, it was shown that the addition of acid materials and a change in the polymer base resulted in a high impact on the OPE for a certain resist. Thus, it was demonstrated that the selection of TC is very important for the OPE in immersion lithography.