Verifying the Correctness of Your Optical Proximity Correction Designs

The emerging demand for smaller and smaller IC features, undiminished by the delay of next generation stepper technologies, has increased the need for OPC and PSM designs that are becoming critical for leading-edge IC manufacturing. However, modifications made to the original layout by OPC or PSM design tools, in general, exclude the use of conventional design verification tools to verify the modified designs. Therefore, the question of design "correctness" often goes unanswered until after the wafers have been printed. This is extremely costly in terms of time and money. In this paper, we address the critical issue that has thus far remained open, the development of methods (and tools) for physical (DRC) verification of OPC designs. Our approach uses fast lithography simulation to map the modified mask design to the final patterns produced on the wafer. The simulated wafer pattern is matched against the specified tolerances and the problem areas are reported. It is a hierarchical verification tool. The hierarchical processing of the data makes it a high performance tool and keeps the data volume in check. We validate this technology by comparing the simulation results with the experimental data. In addition, performance measurements indicate that it is an effective and practical solution to the problem of verifying correctness of full-chip OPC designs.

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