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The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Virtual metrology (VM) generally refers to a model-based prediction of some process outcome in place of, or in the absence of, an actual physical measurement of that outcome. The underlying models are learned from histories of the actual physical outcomes and predictors that may include process trace data, tool consumable status, and incoming work characteristics, among other factors. If the models are sufficiently accurate predictors of process outcomes, VM applications present an opportunity to reduce the number of physical measurements made to monitor a given process, while maintaining or even improving quality control. Such applications are especially attractive for highly complex, capital-intensive semiconductor manufacturing lines in which measurements monitoring processes may add significant processing time and cost."
In addition to the background information obtained for this patent application, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "Embodiments of the invention provide methods and apparatus for improving run-to-run (R2R) control in a semiconductor manufacturing process in a manner which is beneficially adapted to account for process drift. The R2R control methodology according to aspects of the invention is based on processing time which can avoid dealing with high dimensional process variables, which typically have intricate dependencies among one another, and effectively reduce the process variation. The R2R control techniques according to embodiments of the invention further provide a means for optimizing semiconductor wafer inspection policy.
"In accordance with an embodiment of the invention, a method for run-to-run control and sampling optimization in a semiconductor manufacturing process includes the steps of: determining a process output and corresponding metrology error associated with an actual metrology for a current processing run in the semiconductor manufacturing process; determining a predicted process output and corresponding prediction error associated with a virtual metrology for the current processing run; and controlling at least one parameter corresponding to a subsequent processing run as a function of the metrology error and the prediction error.
"As used herein, 'facilitating' an action includes performing the action, making the action easier, helping to carry the action out, or causing the action to be performed. Thus, by way of example and not limitation, instructions executing on one processor might facilitate an action carried out by instructions executing on a remote processor, by sending appropriate data or commands to cause or aid the action to be performed. For the avoidance of doubt, where an actor facilitates an action by other than performing the action, the action is nevertheless performed by some entity or combination of entities.
"One or more embodiments of the invention or elements thereof can be implemented in the form of a computer program product including a computer readable storage medium with computer usable program code for performing the method steps indicated. Furthermore, one or more embodiments of the invention or elements thereof can be implemented in the form of a system (or apparatus) including a memory, and at least one processor that is coupled to the memory and operative to perform exemplary method steps. Yet further, in another aspect, one or more embodiments of the invention or elements thereof can be implemented in the form of means for carrying out one or more of the method steps described herein; the means can include (i) hardware module(s), (ii) software module(s) stored in a computer readable storage medium (or multiple such media) and implemented on a hardware processor, or (iii) a combination of (i) and (ii); any of (i)-(iii) implement the specific techniques set forth herein.
"These and other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of illustrative embodiments thereof, which is to be read in connection with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
"The following drawings are presented by way of example only and without limitation, wherein like reference numerals (when used) indicate corresponding elements throughout the several views, and wherein:
"FIG. 1 is a block diagram conceptually depicting a method of sampling for metrology to monitor process performance during semiconductor manufacturing;
"FIG. 2 conceptually depicts the conversion of tensors (embodying raw data) into one-dimensional vectors;
"FIG. 3 graphically depicts a comparison of root mean square error (RMSE) versus chamber identifier (ID) for five different prediction models;
"FIG. 4 is a block diagram depicting at least a portion of an exemplary system for R2R control and sampling optimization, according to an embodiment of the invention;
"FIG. 5 is a flow diagram depicting at least a portion of an exemplary methodology for implementing the illustrative R2R control system shown in FIG. 4, according to embodiment of the invention;
"FIG. 6 is a flow diagram depicting at least a portion of an exemplary R2R control methodology, according to embodiment of the invention;
"FIG. 7 is a flow diagram depicting at least a portion of an exemplary sampling policy optimization methodology, according to an embodiment of the invention; and
"FIG. 8 is a flow diagram conceptually depicting at least a portion of an exemplary methodology for generating a metrology-based prediction model, according to an embodiment of the invention.
"It is to be appreciated that elements in the figures are illustrated for simplicity and clarity. Common but well-understood elements that may be useful or necessary in a commercially feasible embodiment may not be shown in order to facilitate a less hindered view of the illustrated embodiments."
URL and more information on this patent application, see:
Keywords for this news article include: Electronics, Semiconductor,
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