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E-Beam

Lithography using a single beam e-beam tool
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Description

Originally developed by IBM in the 1980s, electron-beam lithography makes use of a single-beam e-beam tool. E-beam lithography is sometimes known as maskless lithography or direct-write lithography. The e-beam directly writes patterns on a wafer at resolutions below 10nm. It is attractive because it enables fine resolutions without the need of a photomask. In e-beam lithography, the throughputs are relatively slow, however.

E-beam technology is also used for inspection, particularly to accelerate the yield learning process. In this process, the idea is to find and eliminate one defect type after another until a device can be manufactured according to spec. E-beam is ideal for some defect types but it still has some limitations, such as speed, making it unlikely to replace optical inspection. It works well for traditional voltage contrast mode (where the non-contact electrical-defect signal can dramatically reduce time to detect), and for physical defect detection, especially in leading-edge technology nodes.


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