The Impact Of 14nm Photomask Uncertainties On Computational Lithography Solutions

How to achieve accurate representation of imaging system output, and what to watch out for along the way.


Computational lithography solutions rely upon accurate process models to faithfully represent the imaging system output for a defined set of process and design inputs. These models, in turn, rely upon the accurate representation of multiple parameters associated with the scanner and the photomask. While certain system input variables, such as scanner numerical aperture, can be empirically tuned to wafer CD data over a small range around the presumed set point, it can be dangerous to do so since CD errors can alias across multiple input variables. Therefore, many input variables for simulation are based upon designed or recipe-requested values or independent measurements. However, certain measurement methodologies, while precise, can be inaccurate. Additionally, there are known errors associated with the representation of certain system parameters. With shrinking total CD control budgets, appropriate accounting for all sources of error becomes more important, and the cumulative consequence of input errors to the computational lithography model can become significant. In this work, we examine with a simulation sensitivity study, the impact of errors in the representation of photomask properties including CD bias, corner rounding, refractive index, thickness, and sidewall angle. The factors that are most critical to be accurately represented in the model are cataloged. CD Bias values are based on state of the art mask manufacturing data and other variables changes are speculated, highlighting the need for improved metrology and awareness.

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