First methodology to analyze nanometer line pattern images

Scientists from the Institut Català de Nanociència i Nanotecnologia (Catalan Institute for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology – ICN2) announced pioneering software for line pattern image analysis at the SPIE Advanced Lithography (San Jose, CA; 23 – 27 February 2014). The presented methodology is a unique tool developed to address the gap existent in dimensional metrology of sub-10nm line patterns. This is a methodology to quantify the critical dimensions and defect density of line arrays in regimes where optical inspection cannot reach. The software has been developed by the ICN2 Phononic and Photonic Nanostructures Group, led by ICREA Professor C. M. Sotomayor Torres, in collaboration with University College Cork (Ireland), led by Professor A. Amann.

Directed self-assembly (DSA) of block copolymers (BCPs), a method already compatible with existing electronic technologies, has gained the attention of the lithography community as a most promising avenue to advance miniaturization. First-generation DSA is on the verge of entering high-volume manufacturing by successfully increasing sub-20nm contact hole resolution in a cost-effective manner. DSA for reproducible sub-10nm pitch sizes is a hot research topic in Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

One of the main challenges for R&D, material suppliers, or manufacturers is specialized metrology for DSA-based lithography. It is here where the method invented by ICN2/UCC is expected to bring decisive advantages in the characterization of nanometer line patterns, one of the key elements in circuit manufacturing. The presented methodology is user-friendly and customizable software successfully addressing this issue, complimentary to conventional optical inspection tools.

This R&D project is in validation stage and is available for development in joint ventures with partners interested in materials, metrology, manufacturing, and applications involving DSA.

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