New Inspection System Boosts IC Device Processes

Hitachi High-Tech Corporation (Hitachi High-Tech) has developed GS1000 electron beam area inspection system. The newly developed tool offers precise and fast e-beam inspection by using common platform based on the company’s technology in scanning electron microscope (SEM) and massive measurements.

Of late, the need for mass production of cutting-edge semiconductor devices has been increasing. Consequently, this is driving the use of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography to enable smaller semiconductor devices.

Hitachi High-Tech is contributing to the increased productivity in modern semiconductor industry by introducing fast e-beam GS1000 system. Ultimately, this will facilitate massive metrology over a wide inspection area.

Development Background

Shrinking of semiconductor device nodes is continuing with cutting-edge device manufacturers introducing EUV*2 technology. Generally, this is capable of quick and extremely precise lithography.

The device manufacturers are beginning to utilize this technology in the mass production of 5nm node devices and the development of 3nm. Circuit pattern dimensions manufactured using EUV lithography are half the size of those produced by ArF*3 lithography. Because of this, systems that can inspect and measure these smaller patterns reliably and accurately have become essential in production lines.

Particularly, quality assurance of advanced EUV masks to reduce variations in circuit dimensions and randomly occurring microscopic stochastic*4 defects characteristic of EUV lithography becomes of utmost importance. Consequently, the need for high-throughput, high-resolution inspection and measurements is increasing in line with the expansion of number of inspection targets.

Hitachi High-Tech is responding to this increased demand for high-speed, sensitive inspection and measurements over a wide area and is launching GS1000 system to fulfil the needs of semiconductor device mass-production market.

Hitachi Hi-Tech’s GS1000 electron beam area inspection system

Key Features

GS1000 is an advanced conventional Electron Beam Inspection (EBI*5) system. It is a fusion of a high-performance electron optical system and a high-speed, large-capacity data processing system. Furthermore, it provides solutions to the challenges that arise when introducing EUV lithography to semiconductor device mass-production. The key features include the following.

New technology capable of a high-speed, wide-area e-beam inspection

Using optical aberration correctors, electron beam can image wafers with no degradation of resolution within a wide area of the electron beam movement. This enables high-precision inspection and measurements over a wide area. This system uses a combination of a fast-changing field of view using beam shift. In addition, it also employs a sensitive inspection technology to enable high-precision, wide-area scans 100 times faster than conventional CD-SEM tools.

High-speed, large-capacity image processing system

Dedicated high-speed image processing system provides ultra-fast data transfer enabling high throughput. It also performs real-time D2DB measurements*6 through parallel processing using high-speed 4K imaging and image transfer servers. In addition, it introduces D2AI algorithmic inspection*7. This makes use of AI*8 technology to handle processing of the vast amounts of data created by the increasing number of points being inspected and measured to meet the needs of fast detection of process variation and microscopic defects.

Novel Solutions

On the whole, Hitachi High-Tech is working to meet customers’ needs in metrology and inspection for the R&D and mass production of semiconductor devices by supplying electron beam-based products. This include traditional CD-SEM and wafer inspection systems based on optical technologies. Hitachi High-Tech will continue to provide innovative solutions for the upcoming technology challenges. Hence, the company will contribute to the development of cutting-edge technologies by creating new social and environmental value in collaboration with its customers.

*1. CD-SEM: Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) for measuring the microscopic circuit patterns on semiconductor wafers. Used for inspections on semiconductor devices development and production lines, these systems are essential for yield management.

*2. EUV (Extreme Ultraviolet): An extreme ultraviolet light source with a wavelength of 13.5 nm.

*3. ArF: An ArF excimer laser (wavelength 193 nm) light source.

*4. Stochastic defects: Defects that occur randomly, which have been a particular problem in the development of EUV lithography technology.

*5. EBI: Electron Beam Inspection: Wafer inspection equipment that uses electron beams.

*6. D2DB Measurement: Die to Database Measurement: An algorithmic procedure that performs comparative inspections and measurements between areas printed of the wafer (the die) and the configured design data for the same area.

*7. D2AI Algorithmic Inspection: Die to AI Inspection: An algorithmic process for inspecting areas of the wafer (the die) using AI.

*8. AI: Artificial Intelligence. A field of computer science that artificially recreates assorted human perceptions and human intelligence using the concepts of calculation and computation.