Infinitesima has built what it describes as a 3-D version of its rapid probe microscope (RPM). Infinitesima has shipped one of these new designs to Belgian technology consultancy Imec, which collaborated on its development.
The company’s RPMs are used in semiconductor metrology. The RPM applies a probe microscopy technique that, the company suggests, enables much faster data acquisition rates. The RPM is said to use a “fundamentally different” atomic force measurement technique that, when combined with an interferometric measurement system, can achieve picometer precision and speeds greater than 10x faster than those achieved by conventional atomic force microscope (AFM) techniques.
The technology is basically an enabler for numerous applications such as repair verification, 3D feature analysis, repair of chromeless phase-shifting lithography (CPL) masks, and buried multilayer defect repairs on EUV (extreme ultra-violet) masks.
The work with Imec will initially focus on complex 3D metrology issues of advanced semiconductor processes such as gate-all-aound (GAA) transistors.
Infinitesima’s latest version can automatically switch between different probes, whilst retaining sample registration enables much faster cycles of learning in the development of 3D device structures. This, the company says, will help accelerate the introduction of such new processes and, in the future, provide process control.
As well as allowing traditional 3D surface measurement of the sample, the new system offers characterization of electrical properties through the depth of structures using C-AFM (computer-aided facility management) and other techniques.
The RPM, using a patented variation on atomic force detection, was designed as a module for integration into third-party equipment for hybrid metrology and inspection applications. Infinitesima says it has already been implemented by several semiconductor equipment companies, and is installed at most leading IC manufacturers.
For instance, in the Zeiss MeRiT neXT photomask repair tool, the RPM is used to validate mask repair workflow.
The technology was originally developed at the University of Bristol and was a spin out from the University in 2001 led by Professor Andrew Humphries, who is the company’s CTO. The company currently employs 32 people.
Initial results from the collaboration with Imec will be given in a joint paper to be presented at next week’s SPIE Advanced Lithography conference.
Commenting on the work, Infinitesima CEO Peter Jenkins said, “we are very excited to be partnering with Imec. Their pioneering work in tomographical semiconductor analytics will prove increasingly important with the increasing focus on 3D integration to continue Moore’s Law. The RPM’s unique technology enables us to address the industry drive of migrating lab techniques into the fab to support future semiconductor manufacturing process control.”