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Patent Issued for Phase Shift Focus Monitor Reticle, Manufacturing Method Thereof and Method for Monitoring Focus Difference

May 28, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Electronics Newsweekly -- From Alexandria, Virginia, VerticalNews journalists report that a patent by the inventors Li, Wenliang (Shanghai, CN); Wu, Peng (Shanghai, CN), filed on November 29, 2012, was published online on May 13, 2014.

The patent's assignee for patent number 8722287 is Shanghai Huali Microelectronics Corporation (Shanghai, CN).

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The lithography machine takes an important role in the manufacturing and production of semiconductor devices such as VLSIs, sensors, surface wave components, magnetic bubble devices, microwave devices, and CCDs, etc. In the photolithographic process, the patterns on the mask are transferred to the photoresist coated on the surface of the wafer by the exposure process, and then transferred to the wafer by developing and etching. The photolithographic process determines the critical dimension of the VLSI and is a critical process in the manufacturing of the VLSI.

"The focus of the lithography machine is an important parameter of the product performance, which needs to be monitored regularly. The PSFM (Phase Shift Focus Monitor) reticle changes the vertical distance between the lights into a horizontal distance. Therefore, the focus difference of the lithography machine can be calculated by measuring the horizontal distance between the outer box and the inner box of the 'box-in-box' overlay marks exposed on the wafer using an overlay measuring machine. As shown in FIG. 1, which is a schematic diagram of the conventional PSFM reticle, the PSFM reticle comprises a glass layer 1 having multiple openings 2. In the three dimensional space, the lights vertically incident on the reticle (in the direction of the z-axis perpendicular to the surface of the glass) passes through the reticle and converts into two beams of light, one beam of light passes through the air in the opening 2 of the glass and the other beam of light passes through the whole glass 1. Since the wavelength of the light in the air is different from that of the light in the glass, the two beams of lights may interfere with each other, and the wavefront of the interfered lights changes from an original horizontal direction (the x-axis direction or the y-axis direction) into an inclined direction (between the x-axis direction and the y-axis direction). Since the direction of the emergent lights is perpendicular to the wavefront, the normal incidence lights will be changed to oblique emergent lights after passing through the openings 2. Therefore, the shifts of the emergent lights in horizontal vector (x vector or y vector) are different in the horizontal planes of different heights.

"After the exposure process for the reticle, the overlay marks corresponding to the openings of the reticle will be formed on the wafer, the focus difference of the lithography machine may cause the overlay difference. FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram illustrating the conventional phase shift focus monitor reticle and the conventional method of monitoring the focus difference using the phase shift focus monitor reticle. As shown in FIG. 2, the conventional reticle comprises a glass layer 1 having multiple openings 2, a chrome outer box 3 and a chrome inner box 4 positioned below the glass layer 1. The normal incidence lights passing through the glass layer 1 changes into oblique emergent lights due to the interference, the chrome outer box 3 and the chrome inner box 4 below the glass layer 1 will limit the emergent lights in a certain range (as shown by the arrows below the chrome outer box 3 and the chrome inner box 4 in FIG. 2), wherein the chrome outer box 3 and the chrome inner box 4 are opaque. As shown in the right part of FIG. 2, the chrome outer box 3 and the chrome inner box 4 are not perfectly symmetrical, the shift between the middle of the chrome outer box 3 and the middle of the chrome inner box 4 in the x-axis direction is .DELTA.x. In the horizontal plane of the Z.sub.0-axis, which has the BF (best focus) of the lithography machine, the shift (in the x direction or in the y direction) between the middle of the exposed patterns of the chrome outer box 3 and the chrome inner box 4 is measured to be .DELTA..sub.0 by the overlay measuring machine. If the focus of the lithography machine shifts from the plane of the Z.sub.0-axis to the plane of the Z.sub.1-axis, the measured shift between the middle of the exposed pattern of the chrome outer box 3 and the chrome inner box 4 in the plane of the Z.sub.1-axis will be changed into .DELTA..sub.1 since the emergent light is oblique. Similarly, the shift between the middle of the exposed patterns of the chrome outer box 3 and the chrome inner box 4 in the plane of the Z.sub.2-axis and that in the plane of the Z.sub.3-axis will be measured to be .DELTA..sub.2 and .DELTA..sub.3, respectively. Therefore, when the reticle is exposed on the wafer with different focus, the shifts between the middle of the exposed patterns of the chrome outer box 3 and the chrome inner box 4 measured by the overlay measuring machine can be modeled, and further the linear relationship between the shift of the lights along the z-axis and the shift of the lights along the x-axis or the y-axis can be calculated. In the regular monitoring for the focus of the lithography machine, the shift of the lights along the z-axis can be calculated according to the linear relationship and the shift between the middle of the exposed patterns of the chrome outer box 3 and the chrome inner box 4 measured at that time. Since the focus difference has a corresponding relationship with the shift of the lights along the z-axis, the difference between the present focus of the lithography machine and the best focus thereof can also be obtained accordingly.

"Due to the high accuracy and repeatability of the overlay measuring machine, the precision can be improved and the measuring time can be reduced by the monitoring method mentioned above. However, since the normal lights can be changed into oblique lights only in a limited range close to the openings (within the chrome outer box 3) in the reticle structure as shown in FIG. 2, the exposed patterns on the wafer to be measured by the overlay measuring machine are narrow line marks, and the photoresist coated on the wafer has to be thin enough to prevent the collapse of the photoresist in the narrow line marks."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "Accordingly, at least one objective of the present invention is to provide a phase shift focus monitor reticle and a manufacturing method thereof to avoid the collapse of the photoresist in the line marks caused by the excessive thickness of the photoresist in the prior art.

"To achieve these and other advantages and in accordance with the objective of the invention, as embodied and broadly described herein, the invention provides a phase shift focus monitor reticle comprising a shield layer and a glass layer; wherein the shield layer comprises a plurality of light-transmitting portions with a certain width; the glass layer is positioned on the shield layer and comprises a plurality of openings at the light-transmitting portions, wherein the width of the openings is half of the width of the light-transmitting portions; the depth of the openings is n*.lamda./(N-1), wherein .lamda. is the wavelength of the lights incident on the phase shift focus monitor reticle in air, N is the refractive index of the glass layer, n is a positive integer.

"The invention further provides a manufacturing method of the phase shift focus monitor reticle comprising etching a plurality of light-transmitting portions with a certain width in a shield layer respectively; etching a plurality of openings in the glass layer positioned on the shield layer at the plurality of the light-transmitting portions to form the phase shift focus monitor reticle; exposing the phase shift focus monitor reticle on the wafer to form space marks on the wafer, wherein the width of the openings is half of the width of the light-transmitting portions; the depth of the openings is n*.lamda./(N-1), wherein .lamda. is the wavelength of the lights incident on the phase shift focus monitor reticle in air, N is the refractive index of the glass layer, n is a positive integer.

"The invention further provides a method of monitoring the focus difference using the phase shift focus monitor reticle comprising: step a, exposing the phase shift focus monitor reticle on the wafer by the lithography machine to form space marks corresponding to the light-transmitting portions and the openings on the wafer; step b, modeling the shift between the middle of the outer box and the middle of the inner box of the space marks measured by an overlay measuring machine when the lithography machine exposing with different focus; step c, calculating the focus difference of the lithography machine according to the modeling result and the shift between the middle of the outer box and the middle of the inner box of the space marks.

"Compared with the line marks formed on the wafer by the conventional reticle in the exposure process, space marks are formed by the phase shift focus monitor reticle in the present invention, which eliminates the collapse of the photoresist caused by the thick photoresist and the narrow line marks in the prior art and increases the applicability of the phase shift focus monitoring method to thicker photoresist and various process machines."

For additional information on this patent, see: Li, Wenliang; Wu, Peng. Phase Shift Focus Monitor Reticle, Manufacturing Method Thereof and Method for Monitoring Focus Difference. U.S. Patent Number 8722287, filed November 29, 2012, and published online on May 13, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=93&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=4646&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=20140513.PD.&OS=ISD/20140513&RS=ISD/20140513

Keywords for this news article include: Shanghai Huali Microelectronics Corporation.

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Source: Electronics Newsweekly


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