The patent's assignee for patent number 8488117 is
News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Modern manufacturing processes are capable of producing objects that have nano-metric structural elements. Such inspected objects may be semiconductor wafers, reticles, solar panels and the like. An inspected surface of such an inspected object is not flat and this may result in focus errors.
"Slowly developed focus errors can be compensated for by a mechanical module that can elevate or lower the inspected object. This compensation is relatively slow and is limited by mechanical constraints.
"There is a growing need to provide a fast focus error correction method and an inspection system having fast focus alteration capabilities."
As a supplement to the background information on this patent, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "An inspection system may be provided and may include a sensor; a mechanical module arranged to alter a distance between an inspected object and the sensor at a rate that is lower than a first rate; a first focusing unit arranged to receive a first beam and to apply a first focusing function along a first direction to provide a second beam, wherein the first focusing unit is arranged to alter the first focusing function at a rate that exceeds the first rate; a traveling lens acousto-optic device arranged to generate a plurality of traveling lenses in response to radio frequency signals, wherein each traveling lens is arranged to receive at least a portion of the second beam and to apply a second focusing function along a second direction to generate a plurality of focused spots and the traveling lens acousto-optic device is arranged to alter the second focusing function at a rate that exceeds the first rate; and optics arranged to direct the plurality of focused spots on the inspected object and to direct radiation from the inspected object to the sensor.
"A focusing unit may be provided and may include a core having multiple facets, wherein refractive indices of the core are responsive to an electric field applied on the core and the core is made of ultra violet durable material; a first set of electrodes coupled to a first facet of the core; a second set of electrodes coupled to a second facet of the core, wherein when the electrodes induce an electrical field having a magnitude that has a substantially parabolic shape along a first direction, the core applies a first focusing function along the first direction on a first light beam, the first direction being oriented to a propagation direction of the first light beam; wherein the first light beam enters the core through an input facet of the core, wherein the input facet of the core that differs from the first and second facets; and wherein fast changes in the electrical field result in fast changes in the first focusing function.
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