In this paper, we present the results of experimental patterning 140 nm poly gates with double-exposure alternating phase-shifting masks (PSM) using a Nikon EX-1 (KrF, 0.42NA) stepper. We show that: systematic intrafield line width variations can be controlled withing 10 nm (3 sigma), interfield variations across the wafer to within 6 nm (3sigma), and total variation across the wafer held to within 15 nm (3sigma), within a target k1 factor of k1=0.237 (140 nm target gate lengths). We also present the results of studies addressing several issues related to the production application of alternating PSM's, including mask manufacturing tolerances and full chip PSM design capabilities. We show that, in comparison to conventional binary masks, alternating PSM's reduce the criticality of mask line width control and reduce the sensitivity to mask defects. Furthermore tolerance to PSM phase errors can be significatnly improved by placing a chrome regulator between phase-shifters. Automatic, high-speed full chip design of alternating strong PSM is now possible.
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