Comparison of Binary Mask Defect Printability Analysis Using Virtual Stepper System and Aerial Image Microscope System

As advanced process technologies in the wafer fabs push the patterning processes toward lower k1 factor for sub-wavelength resolution printing, reticles are required to use optical proximity correction (OPC) and phase-shifted mask (PSM) for resolution enhancement. For OPC/PSM mask technology, defect printability is one of the major concerns. Current reticle inspection tools available on the market sometimes are not capable of consistently differentiating between an OPC feature and a true random defect. Due to the process complexity and high cost associated with the making of OPC/PSM reticles, it is important for both mask shops and lithography engineers to understand the impact of different defect types and sizes to the printability.

Aerial Image Measurement System (AIMS) has been used in the mask shops for a number of years for reticle applications such as aerial image simulation and transmission measurement of repaired defects. The Virtual Stepper System (VSS) provides an alternative method to do defect printability simulation and analysis using reticle images captured by an optical inspection or review system.

In this paper, pre-programmed defects and repairs from a Defect Sensitivity Monitor (DSM) reticle with 200 nm minimum features (at 1x) will be studied for printability. The simulated resist lines by AIMS and VSS are both compared to SEM images of resist wafers qualitatively and quantitatively using CD verification. Process window comparison between un-repaired and repaired defects for both good and bad repair cases will be shown. The effect of mask repairs to resist pattern images for the binary mask case will be discussed. AIMS simulation was done at the International Sematech, Virtual stepper simulation at Zygo and resist wafers were processed at AMD-Submicron Development Center using a DUV lithographic process for 0.18 Ám Logic process technology.

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