Demonstrating The Benefits Of Source-Mask Optimization And Enabling Technologies Through Experiment And Simulations

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In recent years the potential of Source-Mask Optimization (SMO) as an enabling technology for 22nm-and-beyond lithography has been explored and documented in the literature. It has been shown that intensive optimization of the fundamental degrees of freedom in the optical system allows for the creation of non-intuitive solutions in both the mask and the source, which leads to improved lithographic performance. These efforts have driven the need for improved controllability in illumination and have pushed the required optimization performance of mask design. This paper will present recent experimental evidence of the performance advantage gained by intensive optimization, and enabling technologies like pixelated illumination. Controllable pixelated illumination opens up new regimes in control of proximity effects, and we will show corresponding examples of improved through-pitch performance in 22nm Resolution Enhancement Technique (RET). Simulation results will back-up the experimental results and detail the ability of SMO to drive exposure-count reduction, as well as a reduction in process variation due to critical factors such as Line Edge Roughness (LER), Mask Error Enhancement Factor (MEEF), and the Electromagnetic Field (EMF) effect. The benefits of running intensive optimization with both source and mask variables jointly has been previously discussed. This paper will build on these results by demonstrating large-scale jointly-optimized source/mask solutions and their impact on design-rule enumerated designs.

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