Traditionally, mask defect analysis has been done through a visual inspection review. As the semiconductor industry moves into smaller process generations and mask complexities exponentially increase, the traditional mask defect analysis method becomes very time consuming. The Automatic Defect Severity Scoring (ADSS) module of the Virtual Stepper system from Numerical Technologies offers a fast and accurate software solution for defect printability analysis of advanced technologies, including OPC and phase-shifting masks in a real production environment. In this paper, we will discuss the ADSS results for both line-space and contact patterns on attenuated phase shift masks (ATTPSM), together with some ADSS results for line-space patterns on binary masks. The ADSS results are compared to wafer results.
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