As feature sizes approaches the resolution limit of optics (K1 factors <0.5) image quality rapidly degrades. The benefits of stepper reduction are reduced and unavoidable mask errors are amplified on silicon. This phenomenon is known as Mask Error Enhancement Factor (MEEF). MEEF puts severe constraints on the mask manufacturing process. Optical Proximity Correction (OPC) for sub-150 nm designs becomes a problem. Use of strong (alternating) phase shifting masks (PSM), however, greatly reduces Mask Error Factor (MEF) and inverts MEEF into Mask Error Attenuation Factor (MEAF). Application of strong PSM enables OPC for the next IC generation.
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