Today, KLA-Tencor Corporation (NASDAQ: KLAC) introduced three advanced reticle inspection systems that address 10nm and below mask technologies: the Teron 640, Teron SL655 and Reticle Decision Center (RDC). All three systems are key to enabling both current and next-generation mask designs, so that mask shops and IC fabs can more efficiently identify lithographically significant and severe yield-damaging defects.
Utilizing Dual Imaging technology, the Teron 640 inspection system offers the sensitivity necessary for mask shops to accurately qualify advanced optical masks. The Teron SL655 inspection system introduces new STARlightGold technology, helping IC manufacturers assess incoming reticle quality, monitor reticle degradation and detect yield-critical reticle defects. The comprehensive reticle quality measurements produced by the Teron inspectors are supported by RDC, a data analysis and management system that provides a wide array of capabilities that drive automated defect disposition decisions, improve cycle time and reduce the reticle-related patterning errors that can affect yield.
“Today’s complex patterning techniques, such as spacer assist quadruple patterning (SAQP), utilize increasingly complex masks, making it crucial to qualify and maintain the reticle state to achieve optimal wafer patterning,” stated Yalin Xiong, Ph.D., vice president and general manager of the Reticle Products Division (RAPID) at KLA-Tencor. “Our team has developed state-of-the-art reticle inspection and data analysis technologies that address both current and next-generation mask designs. By tying the rich datasets generated by the Teron 640 and Teron SL655 to RDC’s evaluation capabilities, mask shops and IC fabs can more efficiently identify lithographically significant reticle defects, thereby improving mask quality control and obtaining better production patterning.”
Built on the Teron reticle inspection platform for mask shops, the Teron 640 supports inspection of advanced optical masks through the utilization of 193nm illumination with Dual Imaging mode—a combination of high resolution inspection and aerial imaging with printability-based defect dispositioning. Additionally, the Teron 640 includes enhancements to advanced die-to-database inspection algorithms to further maximize defect sensitivity as well as a new higher throughput option to decrease time to results. Multiple Teron 640 reticle inspection systems have been installed at foundry and logic manufacturers where they are being used for high-performance reticle quality control.
The Teron SL655’s core technology, STARlightGold, generates a golden reference from the mask at incoming quality check and then uses this reference for mask re-qualification inspections. The unique technology enables full-field reticle coverage and maximizes the detection of defects, such as haze growth or contamination, on a full range of mask types, including those that utilize highly complicated optical proximity techniques. The Teron SL655’s production throughput supports the fast cycle times required to qualify the increased number of reticles associated with advanced multi-patterning techniques. In addition, the Teron SL655 is EUV-compatible, allowing collaboration with IC manufacturers on in-fab EUV reticle inspection requirements. Teron SL655 systems are under evaluation with IC manufacturers for incoming reticle quality control and reticle re-qualification during chip production.
RDC is a comprehensive data analysis and storage platform that supports multiple KLA-Tencor reticle inspection and metrology platforms for mask shops and IC fabs. RDC provides several applications including Automatic Defect Classification (ADC), which runs concurrently with the inspection station, and Lithography Plane Review (LPR), which analyzes the printability of defects detected by reticle inspectors. These applications automate defect disposition decisions, resulting in improved cycle time and reduction in critical errors. RDC has been adopted by multiple foundry and memory manufacturers for data management and analysis during mask qualification.
The Teron 640, Teron SL655 and RDC join the LMS IPRO6 reticle pattern placement metrology system and K-T Analyzer advanced data analysis system in providing a comprehensive reticle qualification solution for advanced mask and IC manufacturers. The Teron 640, Teron SL655 and RDC are also critical components in KLA-Tencor’s 5D Patterning Control Solution™, which helps IC manufacturers obtain better patterning performance through process monitoring and control throughout the fab and mask shop. To maintain the high performance and productivity demanded by leading-edge mask and IC manufacturing, the Teron 640, Teron SL655 and RDC are backed by KLA-Tencor’s global comprehensive service network. More information can be found on the 5D Patterning Control Solution web page.