SAN JOSE, CA — KLA-Tencor Corporation (NASDAQ: KLAC) has introduced a unique application for its SensArray™ wafer-level metrology tools, called PlasmaWafer™ Suite, that provides chipmakers and etch equipment suppliers with an easy-to-use measurement capability to help verify plasma etch chamber health and quickly identify problems such as drift, non-uniformity and slight differences in chamber matching.
With its ability to very quickly measure critical in-chamber process conditions, KLA-Tencor’s SensorWafer technology is a significant addition to the company’s extensive metrology portfolio. By combining SensorWafer data from the PlasmaWafer Suite with results from the company’s inspection and metrology systems, chipmakers gain access to new types of process information that enables them to monitor and better understand their etch systems’ operating conditions.
“SensorWafers are becoming the preferred method for precisely measuring wafer-level process conditions in technologies as diverse as plasma etch, litho/track cells, wet processes, CVD*, PVD*, CMP*, and RTP*,” said Jeff Donnelly, Growth and Emerging Markets (GEM) group vice president and SensArray general manager at KLA-Tencor. “We are working with the top logic, memory and foundry chipmakers in every region, as well as plasma etch system suppliers, to help them use the PlasmaWafer Suite to improve etch system productivity.”
As key etch patterning tolerances fast approach atomic-level dimensions, even formerly undetectable process variations can create device performance problems for chipmakers. However, post-etch metrology or electrical testing does not precisely measure specific etch chamber conditions or provide root-cause information about process problems. The specialized SensorWafer metrology capability can significantly enhance etch tool operation for 65nm and below production, as well as reducing maintenance, recovery and qualification time.
Etch process chambers used in critical layers require frequent monitoring and preventive maintenance to achieve consistent operation, because even subtle differences in process, or between chambers, can impact device yield and performance. KLA-Tencor’s PlasmaWafer Suite consists of high-precision temperature measurement SensorWafers, called the PlasmaTemp™, and a second type called PlasmaVolt™, that can directly measure plasma voltage at the wafer surface, to help diagnose problems in RF power delivery systems and other key chamber components. The re-usable SensorWafers feature technologies from KLA-Tencor’s acquisition of SensArray Corporation and OnWafer Technologies.
SensorWafers are wafers containing extensive measurement instrumentation, that are inserted inside the etch chamber where they capture high-precision, time-sequence temperature and plasma data from the fast-changing etch environment while the process is occurring. By continuously measuring acrosswafer temperature variations with an accuracy of <0.2º C, or providing detailed plasma measurements, these cost-effective products help customers pinpoint problems in complex multi-step processes. This advanced technology also can lower manufacturing costs by reducing consumption of costly test wafers, as well as boosting uptime and availability of etch systems.
To support the troubleshooting process and assist the engineer in determining the root cause of problems, the PlasmaWafer Suite includes an advanced diagnostic module, called the PlasmaSuite Data Analysis Package, that features statistical process control (SPC), subsystem-level troubleshooting and detailed characterization of critical process parameters. The SensorWafers come in their own instrumented SmartFOUP360ez, so they can be loaded into the chamber just like a production or monitor wafer.
About KLA-Tencor: KLA-Tencor is the world leader in yield management and process control solutions for semiconductor manufacturing and related industries. Headquartered in San Jose, California, the company has sales and service offices around the world. An S&P 500 company, KLA-Tencor is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol KLAC. Additional information about the company is available at http://www.kla-tencor.com.