KLA upgrades Starlight photomask inspection tool

February 15, 2006 – KLA-Tencor Corp., San Jose, CA, has introduced an upgrade to its Starlight photomask inspection system, offering contamination inspection for all types of photomasks, including mainstream extreme resolution enhancement technique (XRET) photomasks, at the 65-nm node and below.

Starlight-2 offers smaller pixel sizes (125nm and 90nm) to provide resolution and sensitivity needed to detect mask contaminants on device layers with the smallest pattern features before they affect the process window — or worse, print on the wafer. Improved algorithms enable contamination detection in high-density patterned areas typically found on XRET masks. Full-field inspection capabilities allow inspection in scribes and borders, where progressive defects generally first emerge, as well as on both single-die and multi-die photomasks.

Its smaller pixel sizes (125nm and 90nm) provide the resolution and sensitivity needed to detect mask contaminants on device layers with the smallest pattern features before they affect the process window or worse, print on the wafer. STARlight-2’s improved algorithms also enable contamination detection in high-density patterned areas, which are typically found on XRET masks, and its full-field inspection capability allows inspection in scribes and borders — where progressive defects generally first emerge — as well as on both single-die and multi-die photomasks. All these capabilities are achieved while still maintaining the benchmark speed of KLA-Tencor’s previous-generation STARlight platforms.

“Our wafer fab customers’ investment in infrastructure and time is exponentially higher with the increased adoption of immersion lithography and XRETs,” stated Harold Lehon, VP and GM of KLA-Tencor’s reticle and photomask inspection division (RAPID). “Consequently, they are more focused than ever on accelerating their time to profitability. STARlight-2 provides the timely information that our customers need to make yield-critical decisions and speed their production ramps.” The upgraded STARlight-2 enables customers to “create highly flexible photomask requalification strategies to meet their dynamic manufacturing requirements, and eliminate unnecessary rework and cycle time delays.”

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