Self-Aligned Quadruple Patterning (SAQP) is a promising technique extending the 193-nm lithography to manufacture structures that are 20nm half pitch or smaller. This process adopts multiple sidewall spacer image transfers to split a rather relaxed design into a quarter of its original pitch. Due to the number of multiple process steps required for the pitch splitting in SAQP, the process error propagates through each deposition and etch, and accumulates at the final step into structure variations, such as pitch walk and poor critical dimension uniformity (CDU). They can further affect the downstream processes and lower the yield. The impact of this error propagation becomes significant for advanced technology nodes when the process specifications of device design CD requirements are at nanometer scale. Therefore, semiconductor manufacturing demands strict in-line process control to ensure a high process yield and improved performance, which must rely on precise measurements to enable corrective actions and quick decision making for process development. This work aims to provide a comprehensive metrology solution for SAQP.
During SAQP process development, the challenges in conventional in-line metrology techniques start to surface. For instance, critical-dimension scanning electron microscopy (CDSEM) is commonly the first choice for CD and pitch variation control. However, it is found that the high aspect ratio at mandrel level processes and the trench variations after etch prevent the tool from extracting the true bottom edges of the structure in order to report the position shift. On the other hand, while the complex shape and variations can be captured with scatterometry, or optical CD (OCD), the asymmetric features, such as pitch walk, show low sensitivity with strong correlations in scatterometry. X-ray diffraction (XRD) is known to provide useful direct measurements of the pitch walk in crystalline arrays, yet the data analysis is influenced by the incoming geometry and must be used carefully.
A successful implementation of SAQP process control for yield improvement requires the metrology issues to be addressed. By optimizing the measurement parameters and beam configurations, CDSEM measurements distinguish each of the spaces corresponding to the upstream mandrel processes and report their CDs separately to feed back to the process team for the next development cycle. We also utilize the unique capability in scatterometry to measure the structure details in-line and implement a “predictive” process control, which shows a good correlation between the “predictive” measurement and the cross-sections from our design of experiments (DOE). The ability to measure the pitch walk in scatterometry was also demonstrated. This work also explored the frontier of in-line XRD capability by enabling an automatic RSM fitting on tool to output pitch walk values. With these advances in metrology development, we are able to demonstrate the impacts of in-line monitoring in the SAQP process, to shorten the patterning development learning cycle to improve the yield.
This paper demonstrates the synergy between X-rays techniques and scatterometry, and the benefits to combine the data to improve the accuracy and precision for in-line metrology. Particular example is given to show that the hybridization addresses the challenges of aggressive patterning. In 10nm node back-end-of-line (BEOL) integration, we show that the hybridized data between scatterometry and simultaneous X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) and X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) provided the closest dimensional correlation to TEM results compared to the individual technique and CDSEM.