PatentDe  


Dokumentenidentifikation EP1081489 20.01.2005
EP-Veröffentlichungsnummer 0001081489
Titel Vorrichtung zur Photomaskeninspektion mittels Photolithographiesimulation
Anmelder Applied Materials, Inc., Santa Clara, Calif., US
Erfinder Karpol, Avner, Ziona, IL;
Kenan, Boaz, Rehovot, IL
Vertreter derzeit kein Vertreter bestellt
DE-Aktenzeichen 60016682
Vertragsstaaten DE
Sprache des Dokument EN
EP-Anmeldetag 31.08.2000
EP-Aktenzeichen 001188788
EP-Offenlegungsdatum 07.03.2001
EP date of grant 15.12.2004
Veröffentlichungstag im Patentblatt 20.01.2005
IPC-Hauptklasse G01N 21/956

Beschreibung[en]
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is in the field of automatic optical inspection techniques, and relates to a system for inspecting reticles or masks in a manner to simulate the operation of a specific photolithography tool in which this reticle is to be used.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Photolithography is one of the principle processes in the manufacture of semiconductor devices, and consists of patterning the wafer's surface in accordance with the circuit design of the semiconductor devices to be produced. More specifically, a circuit design to be fabricated on the wafer is first patterned on a mask or reticle (for simplicity, the terms mask and reticle will be used here interchangeably, although in actuality they refer to somewhat different techniques). The wafer is coated with a photoresist material, and is then placed in a photolithography tool to be exposed to light passing through the reticle to produce a latent image of the reticle on the photoresist material. Thereafter, the exposed photoresist material is developed to produce the image of the mask on the wafer. After the completion of the photolithography process, the uppermost layer of the wafer is etched, a new layer is deposited, and the photolithography and etching operations are started again. In this repetitive manner, a multi-layer semiconductor wafer is produced.

As is well known, photolithography tools utilize a lamp or a laser as a light source, and utilize a relatively high numerical aperture (NA) objective to achieve a relatively high resolution. The optics of such tools are generally designed to produce reduction (negative magnification) of the image of the reticle, e.g., 1/5 onto the wafer. Different models use different NA and magnification combination, as designed by the manufacturer of the tool.

It should be appreciated that in order to obtain operating semiconductor devices, the reticle must be defect free. Moreover, in most modern processes methods, the reticle is used in a repeated manor to create many dies on the wafer. Thus, any defect on the reticle will be repeated multiple times on the wafer and will cause multiple devices to be defective. Therefore, various reticle inspection tools have been developed and are available commerically. One type of such inspection systems, to which this invention pertains, scans the entire reticle using an illumination spot technique to inspect the reticle for defects. Examples of such systems are provided in USP 4, 926,489, 5,838,433, and 5,563,702, and is also schematically depicted in Figure 1.

As shown in Figure 1, a reticle 10 is placed on an x-y stage 20. A laser 30 produces an illumination beam of a relatively narrow diameter. A scanner 40, e.g., a rotating mirror or an acousto-optic deflector (AOD), is used to scan the beam in one direction, generally referred to as the "fast scan" direction. The stage 20 is moved in a direction perpendicular to the fast scan direction in a serpentine manner, so that the entire surface of the reticle is scanned. The scanned beam passes through the dichroic mirror 50 and is focused by objective lens 60 onto the reticle. Light transmitted through the reticle 10 is collected by the objective lens 70 and focused onto light sensor 80, e.g., a photo-multiplier tube (PMT). Reflected light is deflected by the dichroic mirror 50 to be collected by the lens 95 and focused onto the light sensor 90. Shown by a dotted line is an optional optics and tilted mirror assembly that can be used to obtain an interferometer image of the reticle for inspection of phase shift designs (see, e.g., the cited USP '702).

Conceptually, the inspection systems exemplified in Figure 1 generate a highly magnified image of the reticle. Each pixel in the image corresponds to a sampled illuminated spot on the reticle, and has a grey level corresponding to the amount of light received by the light sensor. This grey level can be either compared to a corresponding pixel from an adjacent die on the reticle, or binarized and compared to a database or compared to a gray scale image calculated from the database. When a discrepency above a designated threshold is encounterred, the location is identified as suspected of having a defect.

Recent advancements in photolithography technology have introduced another factor which may cause the latent image on the wafer to be defective. Specifically, the reduction in design rules necessitates various measures to counter changes in the latent image caused by the interaction of the light with the design on the reticle. Such interactions are generally referred to as "optical proximity effects", and results in, for example, corner rounding, a difference between isolated and semi-isolated or dense patterns, a lack of CD linearity, etc. Whilst not being detected as potential defects in a particular reticle by the conventional inspection system, these effects could produce real defects on the wafer. On the other hand, these effects should not cause the system to issue an alarm if they will not be transferred as defects onto the wafer. Moreover, there is a need to inspect the countermeasures, such as optical proximity conection (OPC) and phase shift etching on reticles, and to test their design and effectiveness.

Conventionally, in designing and evaluating reticles, especially advanced reticles having OPC and phase shift features, one has to create the reticle, expose a wafer using the reticle, and check that the features of the reticles have been transferred to the wafer according to the design. Any variations in the final features from the intended design necessitate modifying the design, creating a new reticle, and exposing a new wafer. Needless to say, such process is expensive, tedious, and time consuming. In order to short-cut this process, and assist in design and evaluation of advanced reticles, IBM has recently developed a microscope called the Aerial Image Measurement System (AIMS).

The AIMS system is disclosed, for example, in European Patent Publication No. 0628806, and in the following articles: Richard A. Ferguson et al. "Application of an Aerial Image Measurement System to Mask Fabrication and Analysis", SPIE Vol. 2087 Photomask Technology and Management (1993) pp. 131-144, and R. Martino et al. "Application of the Aerial Image Measurement System (AIMS™) to the Analysis of Binary Mask Imaging and Resolution Enhancement Techniques", SPIE Vol. 2197 pp. 573-584. The Microscope is available commercially from Carl Zeiss, GmbH of Germany, under the trade name MSM100 (standing for Microlithographhy Simulation Microscope).

Conceptually, rather than obtaining a highly magnified image of the reticle, as is done by inspection systems, the AIMS system emulates a stepper and creates a highly magnified image of the latent image produced by the reticle. Specifically, the operational parameters of illumination and light collection in the AIMS, such as wavelength and NA, can be adjusted by the user to simulate the tool which will be used to expose wafers using the reticle. The illumination is provided in a manner which simulates exposure in a stepper, so that a latent image of the reticle is created. However, rather than placing a wafer at the location of the latent image, a sensor is places so as to produce an aerial Image of the latent image produced by the retiole. Also, rather than providing reduction of the image like a stepper, the AIMS magnifies the latent image to enable easier image aquisition

The AIMS is basically an engineering tool, which is intended for development and testing of various reticle designs. It is also helpful for checking how OPC and phase shift features would print on the wafer. Additionally, the system can be used to study various defects discovered by a reticle inspection systems, and test whether those defects would actually print on the wafer. However, the MSM100 is not intended to be used as a general reticle inspection system, and lacks any of the technology required for rapid inspection of reticles.

U.S. Patent 5,795,688, however, discloses a technique for using a system such as the MSM100 to perform an automatic inspection of a photomask. To this end, an aerial image of a portion of the photomask is acquired with the MSM100, while a so-called "virtual stepper" software algorithm concurrently simulates a similar aerial image considering the operational conditions of a specific stepper of interest, using the reticle pattern data base. The real aerial image is compared to the simulated aerial image, and potential defects on the photomask are located. This technique actually utilizes a so-called die-to-database image processing technique, wherein the database is constituted by the simulated image. Since the image is obtained using the MSM100, which cannot perform rapid inspection, this technique cannot be used for in-line automatic inspection of reticles progressing on a production line. On the other hand, this technique does not provide reliable results due to limitaions of the simulation software. Specifically, many artificial differences between the real aerial image and the simulated aerial imago would be falsely flagged as defects.

Accordingly, there is a need in the art for a reticle inspection system which would be capable of "conventional" reticle inspection in conjunction with Aerial image inspection. Moreover, the system would preferably be also capable of detecting particles on the reticle.

The present invention intends to overcome the above problems. The object is solved by the system for optic inspection according to independent claim 1.

Further advantages, features, aspects and details of the invention are evident from the dependent claims, the description and the accompanying drawings.

The present invention provides the advantages of automatic optical inspection of reticles utilizing the laser spot illumination, incorporating a novel optical inspection method and system simulating the operation of a specific stepper and specific resist.

It is a feature of the present invention that it can be constructed by easily modifying any conventional inspection system utilizing a flying spot scanning of the reticle under inspection.

The present invention utilizes the capabilities of conventional inspection systems to provide inpection using high resolution imaging of the reticle. Additionally, the inventive system is capable of inspecting the reticle using aerial imaging.

According to an embodiment the invention a system for automatic optical inspection of a reticle to be used in a selected photolithography exposure tool operating with a selected frequency of light and a selected numerical aperture and coherence of the light, and using a selected type of resist comprises:

  • a light source for providing a light beam;
  • a scanning apparatus for receiving the light beam and scanning the light beam to form a flying spot over the reticle;
  • an objective optics having a defined numerical aperture for high resolution illumination;
  • a detection unit comprising a light sensor for receiving light transmitted through the reticle and generating data representative thereof; and
  • a processor unit coupled to said light sensor to be responsive to said data for analysing it and generating data indicative of defects on the reticle; the system being characterized in that it further comprises
  • an illumination assembly selectively insertable in the path of the incident light beam and operative to adjust said defined numerical aperture to simulate said selected numerical aperture of the exposure tool; and
  • a collection assembly for adjusting a collection numerical aperture of the transmitted light.

According to another embodiment the above illumination assembly or a second aperture is inserted into the beam's path to emulate the effects of the photoresist in the lithographic process.

According to another embodiment the shape of the illumination beam is modified from a Gaussian to a flat-top shape.

According to yet another embodiment the system is made to no out of focus or move some optical elements from their previous location to effectively expand the beam on the reticle.

A rotating scattering disk may be inserted at a plane where the optical beam has a very small instantaneous diameter so that it shall reduce the time and spatial coherence of the beam on the reticle.

According to another embodiment the illumination assembly comprises an aperture which has also the properties of a beam shaper, such that the profile of the incident beam may be changed from a Gaussian to such as a flat-top. The collection channel also includes a collection assembly accommodated in front of the light sensor for adjusting the numerical aperture of the collection objective. In other words, by appropriately selecting the illumination and collection apertures, coherence of light in the inspection system can be adjusted to that of a selected exposure tool.

Preferably, the analysis of the data representative of the at least transmitted light components includes the comparison of data representative of at least some of the successively scanned features on the reticle to each other. This is the so-called "die-to-die" signal processing technique.

The illumination assembly may comprise an illumination aperture, e.g. an off-axis aperture, e.g. quadrupole. The illumination aperture may comprise beam-shaping properties, being, for example, a diffractive optical element providing a flat-top beam profile. Preferably, the aperture reduces the numerical aperture of the illumination by about four folds, thereby simulating the lower numerical aperture illumination of a stepper.

Preferably, the illumination assembly comprises a set of different apertures. Accordingly, the system can resemble the operation of a different stepper of interest by selecting the illumination aperture type. The collection assembly preferably includes a light collection aperture, which preferably provides the collection numerical apature of for example 1.2-0.2.

The detection unit comprises at least one light sensor accommodated in the optical path of light transmitted through the reticle, which is preferably a photomultiplier tube (PMT).

The system may additionally utilize a dark-field inspection. To this end, the detection unit comprises at least one additional light sensor accommodated so as to collect light scattered from the illuminated spot on the reticle.

Additionally, to speed up the inspection, the system may utilize a so-called multispot scanning technique. For this purpose, the scanning apparatus also includes a beam splitter means for splitting the primary laser beam into at least two beams, thereby providing at least one additional scanning beam. In this case, the detection unit comprises at least one additional light sensor for receiving light components transmitted through a spot illuminated by the additional beam and a lens to separate the two beams to the two light sensors.

More specifically, the present invention is used for inspecting the reticles used for patterning wafers during the photolithography process, and is therefore described below with respect to this application. It should be appreciated that the terms "reticle" and "mask" are used herein interchangiably.

In order to understand the invention and to see how it may be carried out in practice, a preferred embodiment will now be described, by way of non-limiting example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

  • Fig. 1 schematically illustrates a system according to the prior art.
  • Fig. 2 schematically illustrates the main components of an optical inspection system according to one embodiment of the invention;
  • Fig. 3a illustrates a set of different illumination apertures suitable to be used in the system of Fig. 2;
  • Fig. 3b graphically illustrates the main principles of an apodization aperture affecting the profile of a laser beam suitable to be used in the system of Fig. 2;
  • Fig. 4 schematically illustrates the operation ofthe system of Fig. 2, and
  • Fig. 5 illustrates the main components of an optical inspection system according to another embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Fig. 2 depicts an exemplary optical inspection system, 200, according to an embodiment of the present invention. The embodiment of Figure 2 retains many of the elements of the system of Figure 1 and, therefore, similar elements are designated by the same character preceded by numeral "2." Due to the special construction of this embodiment, the system of Figure 2 can be operated in at least two modes: conventional inspection mode and aerial imaging mode. In the conventional inspection mode the same elements as in Figure 1 are employed to perform conventional inspection, i.e., using a flying spot to obtained a high resolution transmission image of the reticle and compare the image to a database or perform a die-to-die comparison.

As is known and understood from Figures 1 and 2, in a "flying spot" system the illumination optics has high NA, high resolution characteristics, so that a small spot is illuminated on the reticle. Then, a sensor, such as a PMT collects all the light it receives and is sampled periodically, The size of the spot and the sampling time determines the pizel size and resolution. This is in contrast to imaging optics, such as in the MSM100, wherein the illumination optics is of low resolution, but the collection optics is of high resolution and controls the pixel size and resolution.

The novel use of the system to perform aerial imaging mode will be described below.

Preliminary, it should be noted that the light source 230 should preferably operate at a wavelength comparable to that typically used in a stepper of interest. For example, a mercury arc lamp may be used for i-line at 265nm for .50-.30 micron design rule technology, while a laser (e.g., krypton or Argon Bximers) at the DUV range for .25-.08 design rule technology. This will improve the resolution in both the conventional and aerial imaging inspection modes. Additionally, using a wavelength comparable to that used in the photolithography tool would result in a more "realistic" aerial image.

As shown in Figure 2, an aperture 265 can be selectively placed so as to selectively alter the effective NA of objective lens 260 (this would be generally referred to as NAill). In general, the objective lens 260 is of a relatively large numerical aperture (e.g., 0.6) selected to provide high resolution when aperture 265 is removed, so as to provide maximum resolution during the conventional inspection mode. However, when aerial mode is used, it is desired to match the NAill of the inspection system to that of the exposure tool, e.g., 0.12. Thus, the aperture 265 reduces the effective NAill from 0.6 to 0.12.

As shown in Fig. 3a, a set of different apertures may be provided - four in the present example, 28A, 28B, 28C and 28D. The apertures 28A-28C are annular-shaped apertures and the aperture 28D is a quadrupole off-axis aperture enabling the enhancement of depth of focus (DOF). A selected one of these apertures can be inserted in the optical path of the laser beam B0. Of course, depending on the specific illumination desired, other apertures may be used. A modified apperture or a second one may be used to change the spot shape so that the image shall emmulate the effects of the photoresist as well.

Additionally, it is desired to change the shape of the light beam to more closely resemble an exposure tool. To that effect, the illumination aperture 265 may be a diffractive optical element or a proper apodization aperture affecting also the shape of the incident beam. Preferably, the aperture 265 provides a flat-top beam, i.e., a beam with uniform intensity distribution over the cross section of the beam. Fig. 3b shows profiles I1 and I2 of the laser beams B6 at the reticle plane (i.e., the inspection plane) with and without the proper apodization of aperture, respectively. As known, the primary laser beam has a Gaussian intensity distribution, profile I1. To convert a Gaussian beam into a flat-top beam having profile I2, the aperture 265 may be designed like a diffractive optical beam shaper that changes the propagation phase patterns prior to diffraction focusing. This beam shaper is one of general classes of diffractive optical elements, which can be fabricated using computer-generated holograms, photolithography and ion etching or other methods.

Generally, there is a great variety of beam-shaping techniques aimed at converting a Gaussian beam into a flat-top beam. Directly truncating the Gaussian beam with an aperture is a straightforward approach. The Gaussian beam can be attenuated with a neutral density filter or an electrooptic device having a suitable controlable transversal transmittance profile. A binary optical beam shaper on interlace diffraction gratings converts an incident Gaussian beam into an approximately 1-D sinc-square function beam or a 2-D Bessinc-square fucntion beam in its near field and then generates a flat-top beam in its far field. Another beam-shaping technique is based on redistributing the energy of a Gaussian beam with prisms, or aspheric reflective mirrors or aspheric lenses.

Also shown in Figure 2 is collection aperture 275, for adjusting the effective collection numerical aperture NAcol'. Typically, the aperture 275 is designed to reduce the collection numerical aperture of a conventional flying spot based inspection system to the stepper associated value of about 0.15. A condenser lens 270 is optionally used to collect the light and direct it to the light sensor.

As can be appreciated, when the apertures 265 and 275 of the system of Figure 2 are inserted into the beam's path, the effective optics of the system resembles the optics of an exposure tool, except that the system still scans the reticle using a flying spot Consequently, the optics thus modified can be advantageously used to obtain an aerial image of the reticle, by scanning the entire reticle in a serpentine manner. The aerial image can then be compared to a modified database or evaluated in a die-to-die manner. In operation, the user may wish to inspect the entire reticle In the conventional mode, then switch to the aerial imaging mode and inspect the entire reticle in an aerial imaging mode. Alternatively, since the design of the reticle is known, the user may wish to use the aerial imaging mode only In areas having dense features, dense OPC's, or phase shift features. Additionally, the user may wish to use aerial imaging mode to revisit areas indicated as suspect of having defects during the conventional inspection mode.

In both the conventional and aerial inspection modes the reticle is scanned using a "flying spot." While such scanning is known in the art, it is summarized here for completness. As shown in Figure 4, scanner 240 scans the beam in the fast scan direction to scan a strip 400 of the reticle, while the stage 220 is moved in the slow scan direction to complete a field 420. Using a serpentine motion, the entire reticle can be inspected.

Returning to Figure 2, an optical beam coherence reducer 235 is depicted as optional equipment. The optical beam coherence reducer is used in the aerial imaging mode to assist in beam shaping so as to further resemble an exposure tool. Specifically, the optical beam coherence reducer can be used in conjunction with the aperture 265 to provide exposure of the reticle that simulates the exposure provided by an exposure tool.

An optical beam coherence reducer can be made in the form of a rotating disk. It may be lightly diffusive ground or etched or milled glass as well as diffractive diffuser with the proper scattering angle and phase shifting pattern. Preferably the disk rotates so that the surface moves in the contrary direction to the movement of the laser scanning beam. It is preferably introduced at a location where the beam is small and not in a place that is imaged on the objective lens.

To change the size of the spot, the system can simply be taken out of focus or some elements can be moved. That is, the system of Figure 2 is equipped with a conventional suitable auto-focusing arrangement (not specifically shown), aimed at maintaining the inspection plane of the reticle In the focal plane of the objective lens 260. This is generally done by providing motion of the stage in the Z-axis. Thus, in order to provide effective expension of the beam, the autofocus can be controlled to set the system out of focus. For example, the stage can be lowered to a specified distance below the focal point of lens 260.

Also shown in Figure 2 is a dark field detector 215, which can be operational in either operating mode of the system. When the light beam hits a transparent area of the mask 210, the light is trasmitted therethrough. On the other hand, when the light beam hits a reflective chrome area of the mask, it is reflected back and collected by the objective 260. Under these two circumstances the dark field detector detects no light and produces no signal. However, when a particle is present on either the transparent or reflective area, the light beam is scattered by the particle in various directions and some of that scattered light is detected by the dark field detector 215. Thus, a very high signal to noise ratio is generated for the detection of unwanted particles present on the mask.

Reference is made to Fig. 5, illustrating an optical inspection system 500, constructed and operated according to another embodiment of the invention. The system 500 is aimed at speeding up the inspection process by utilizing a multibeam scanning apparatus - two-beam in the present example. The scanning apparatus comprises a beam splitter and multibeam control mechanism 505 accommodated between the laser source 530 and the deflector element 540. The mechanism 505 splits the primary laser beam B9 into two spatially separated beams B(1)0 and B(2)0. The beams are separated from each other along the X-axis, i.e., perpendicular to the scanning direction, and illuminate two spatially separated spots S1 and S2, respectively, on the reticle 510. Condenser lens 570 is accommodated in the optical path of light components B(1)1 and B(2)1, transmitted through the spots S1 andS2, and collected by the aperture 575. A detection unit comprises two detectors580A and 580B for receiving these light components B(1)1 and B(2)1, respectively, and provide appropriate signal to the processor 515.

The construction of the mechanism 505 does not form part of the present invention and may be of any known kind. For example, it may include a beam splitter and a mirror accommodated in the optical path of one of the beams produced by the passage of the primary beam B0 through the beam splitter. Generally, the mechanism 505 utilizes a suitable number of beam splitting means, such as prisms, partially transparent mirrors, etc., and a means for adjusting the lengths of the optical paths of the beams, e.g., a plane-parallel plate, so as to impinge onto the deflector element simultaneously. Such multibeam scanning mechanisms are disclosed, for example, in U.S. Patent Nos. 3,725,574 and 5,210,635.

The deflection element 540, e.g., a rotating mirror ao an acousto-optic deflector (AOD), deflects the beams B(1)0 and B(2)6 and cause them to scan successive spots S1 and successive spots S2, respectively, on the reticle 510 within spaced-apart parallel identical scan paths extending along the Y-axis. The scan paths 520A and 520B are formed by arrays of successively illuminated spots S1 andS2, respectively (the scanning of which is shown exagerated in Figure 5). At each current time, a pair of illuminated spots S1 and S2 is inspected, while at each relative location of the reticle relative to the lens 510, a pair of scan paths is inspected.

It should be noted, although not specifically shown, that the processor unit515 comprises a memory and a programming means for collecting and analyzing data coming from the detectors. The analysis of the received data includes die-to-die and/or die-to-database comparison. The use of the dark-field detectors enables the reticle inspection for pattern and particles related defects simultaneously. The analysis of the received data includes also the comparison of the data representative of the dark field scattered light and data representative of the transmitted light. This transmission-to-reflection comparison is aimed at detecting the so-called "soft defects", such as particles, damaged antireflection coating, photoresist residuals, etc. Since the die-to-die and the transmission-to-reflection processing do not occur at the same time, they may be carried out by the same image processing module.

Those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that various modifications and changes may be applied to the preferred embodiments of the invention as hereinbefore described without departing from its scope defined in and by the appended claims. For example, such operational parameters of the inspection system as light frequency, numerical aperture and coherence depend on those of the stepper of interest. The deflection element may be of any known kind. The illumination aperture is also of any known kind, and is preferably capable of providing a flat-top beam.


Anspruch[de]
  1. System zur automatischen optischen Prüfung eines Retikels, das in einem ausgewählten photolithographishen Belichtungsgerät, das mit einer ausgewählten Lichtfrequenz und einer ausgewählten numerischen Apertur und Kohärenz des Lichts arbeitet, verwendet wird, wobei das System umfaßt:
    • eine Lichtquelle (230, 530) zur Bereitstellung eines Lichtstrahls;
    • eine Scanvorrichtung (240, 540) zum Empfangen des Lichtstrahls und zum Scannen des Lichtstrahls, um einen Lichtpunkt über dem Retikel zu erzeugen;
    • eine Objektivoptik (260,560) mit einer definierten numerischen Apertur für hochauflösende Belichtung;
    • eine Erfassungseinheit umfassend einen Lichtsensor (280, 580) zum Empfangen von durch das Retikel hindurch transmittierten Lichts und zum Erzeugen von dies repräsentierenden Daten;
    • eine Prozessoreinheit (515), die mit dem Lichtsensor verschaltet ist, um auf die Daten anzusprechen, um sie zu analysieren, und zum Erzeugen von Daten, die Fehler auf dem Retikel anzeigen;
    dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß das System weiterhin umfaßt

    eine Belichtungsanordnung (265, 565), die in den Strahlengang des einfallenden Lichtstrahls selektiv einführbar ist, und die funktionsfähig ist, eine definierte numerische Apertur einzustellen, um die ausgewählte numerische Apertur des Belichtungsgeräts zu simulieren; und

    eine Sammelanordnung (270, 270) zum Einstellen einer numerischen Sammelapertur des transmittierten Lichts.
  2. System nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Lichtquelle (230, 530) einen kontinuierlichen UV-Laser umfaßt.
  3. System gemäß Anspruch 2, wobei der kontinuierliche UV-Laser ein frequenzverdoppelter Argon Laser oder ein frequenzverdoppelter und parametrisch gemischter Festkörperlaser ist.
  4. System einem einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3, weiterhin umfassend einen optischen Strahlkohärenzverminderer (235).
  5. System nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 4, wobei die Belichtungsanordnung eine Belichtungsapertur (265, 565) zum Einstellen der definierten numerischen Apertur umfaßt und wobei die Sammelanordnung weiterhin eine Sammelapertur (275, 575) zum Einstellen der numerischen Sammelapertur des transmittierten Lichts unmfaßt.
  6. System nach Anspruch 5, wobei die Belichtungsapertur (265, 565) eine Off-Axis-Apertur umfaßt.
  7. System nach einem der Ansprüche 5 oder 6, wobei die Belichtungsanordnung einen Satz mehrerer verschiedener Aperturen umfaßt, die eingerichtet sind, um in den Strahlengang des einfallenden Lichtstrahls selektriv eingeführt zu werden.
  8. System nach einem der Ansprüche 5 bis 7, wobei die Belichtungsapertur (265, 565) einen Strahlformer umfaßt, der ein gaußsches Profil des Laserstrahls in ein Flat-Top-Profil umwandelt.
  9. System nach Anspruch 8, wobei der Strahlformer ein diffraktives optisches Element ist.
  10. System nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Erfassungseinheit eine Photomultiplierröhre umfaßt, die so aufgenommen ist, daß sie die transmittierten Lichtkomponenten empfängt.
  11. System nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, weiterhin umfassend einen zweiten Lichtsensor (290) zum Empfangen von Lichtkomponenten, die von dem Lichtpunkt auf dem Retikel reflektiert wurden, und zum Erzeugen von dies repräsentierenden Daten, die von der Prozessoreinheit empfangen und analysiert werden.
  12. System gemäß Anspruch 11, wobei der zweite Lichtsensor (290) eine Photomultiplierröhre ist.
  13. System gemäß einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, weiterhin umfassend einen Dunkelfeldsensor (215) zum Empfangen von Lichtkomponenten, die von dem Lichtpunkt auf dem Retikel gestreut wurden, und zum Erzeugen von dies repräsentierenden Daten, die von der Prozessoreinheit empfangen und analysiert werden.
  14. System gemäß Anspruch 13, wobei der Dunkelfeldsensor (215) eine Photomultiplierröhre ist.
  15. System gemäß einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Scanvorrichtung (540) eine Strahlteilungsanordung zum Teilen des durch die Lichtquelle (530) bereitgestellten Lichtstrahls in zumindest zwei räumlich getrennte einfallende Lichtstrahlen umfaßt, wobei das System angepaßt ist, in einem Vielpunkt-Scanmodus zu arbeiten.
  16. System nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Sammelanordnung umfaßt

    eine zwischen dem Retikel und dem Lichtsensor (280, 580) angeordnete Sammellinse (270, 570) zum Empfangen des transmittierten Lichts; und

    eine Sammelaperturanordnung (275, 575) zum Einstellen der effektiven numerischen Apertur der Sammellinse.
  17. System nach Anspruch 16, wobei die Sammelaperturanordnung (275, 575) mehrere Aperturen umfaßt, die zum Einstellen der effektiven numerischen Apertur der Sammellinse (270, 570) auswählbar sind.
Anspruch[en]
  1. A system for automatic optical inspection of a reticle to be used in a selected photolithography exposure tool operating with a selected frequency of light and a selected numerical aperture and coherence of the light, and using a selected type of resist, the system comprising:
    • a light source (230, 530) for providing a light beam;
    • a scanning apparatus (240, 540) for receiving the light beam and scanning the light beam to form a flying spot over the reticle;
    • an objective optics (260, 560) having a defined numerical aperture for high resolution illumination;
    • a detection unit comprising a light sensor (280, 580) for receiving light transmitted through the reticle and generating data representative thereof;
    • a processor unit (515) coupled to said light sensor to be responsive to said data for analyzing it and generating data indicative of defects on the recycle,
    chraracterized in that the system further comprises

    an illumination assembly (265, 565) selectively insertable in the path of the incident light beam and operative to adjust said defined numerical aperture to simulate said selected numerical aperture of the exposure tool; and

    a collection assembly (270, 275) for adjusting a collection numerical aperture of the transmitted light.
  2. The system according to claim 1, wherein said light source (230, 530) comprises a continuous UV laser.
  3. The system according to claim 2, wherein said continuous UV laser is one of a frequency doubled Argon or frequency doubled and parametrically mixed solid state laser.
  4. The system according to any one of claims 1 to 3, further comprising an optical beam coherence reducer (235).
  5. The system according to any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein said illumination assembly comprises an illumination aperture (265, 565) for adjusting said defined numerical aperture, and wherein said collection assembly further comprises a collection aperture (275, 575) for adjusting said collection numerical aperture of the transmitted light.
  6. The system according to claim 5, wherein said illumination aperture (265,565) comprises an off-axis aperture.
  7. The system according to any one of claims 5 to 6, wherein said illumination assembly comprises a set of several different apertures arranged to be selectively inserted into the optical path of the incident light beam.
  8. The system according to any one of claims 5 to 7, wherein said illumination aperture (265,565) comprises a beam shaper that changes a Gaussian profile of the laser beam to a flat-top profile.
  9. The system according to claim 8, wherein said beam shaper is a diffractive optical element.
  10. The system according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein said detection unit comprises a photomultiplier tube accommodated so as to receive said transmitted light components.
  11. The system according to any one of the preceding claims further comprising a second light sensor (250) for receiving light components reflected from the spot on the reticle and generating data representative thereof which is received and analyzed at the processor unit.
  12. The system according to claim 11, wherein said second light sensor (250) is a photomuliplier tube.
  13. The system according to any of the preceding claims, further comprising a dark field light sensor (215) for receiving light components scattered from the spot on the reticle and generating data representative thereof which is received and analyzed at the processor unit.
  14. The system according to claim 13, wherein said dark field light sensor (215) is a photomultiplier tube.
  15. The system according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said scanning apparatus (540) comprises a beam splitting arrangement for splitting the light beam provided by the light source (530) into at least two spatially separated incident light beams, the system being adapted to operate in a multispot scanning mode.
  16. The system according to any of the preceding claims, wherein said collection assembly comprises comprises

    a condenser lens (270, 570) situated between said reticle and said light sensor (280, 580) for receiving said transmitted light; and

    a collection aperture assembly (275, 575) for adjusting the effective numerical aperture of said condenser lens.
  17. The system of claim 16, wherein said collection aperture assembly (275, 575) comprises a plurality of apertures selectable for adjusting the effective numerical aperture of said condenser lens (270, 570).
Anspruch[fr]
  1. Système pour l'inspection optique automatique d'un réticule utilisable dans un outil d'exposition photolithographique, sélectionné, fonctionnant avec une fréquence de lumière sélectionnée et une ouverture numérique et une cohérence de la lumière sélectionnées, et utilisant un type sélectionné de photo-resist, le système comprenant :
    • une source de lumière (230, 530) pour fournir un faisceau lumineux ;
    • un appareil de balayage (240, 540) pour recevoir le faisceau lumineux et balayer le faisceau lumineux pour former un point volant sur le réticule ;
    • un objectif (260, 560) ayant une ouverture numérique définie pour une illumination à haute résolution ;
    • une unité de détection comprenant un capteur de lumière (280, 580) pour recevoir la lumière transmise au travers du réticule et générer des données représentatives de celui-ci ;
    • une unité processeur (515) couplée audit capteur de lumière pour être sensible auxdites données, les analyser et générer des données indicatrices de défauts sur le réticule ;
       caractérisé en ce que le système comprend, en outre :
    • un ensemble d'illumination (265, 565) qui peut être inséré de manière sélective sur le chemin du faisceau lumineux incident et être opérationnel pour ajuster ladite ouverture numérique définie afin de simuler ladite ouverture numérique sélectionnée de l'outil d'exposition ; et
    • un ensemble de collecte (270, 275) pour ajuster une ouverture numérique de collecte de la lumière transmise.
  2. Système selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ladite source de lumière (230, 530) comprend un laser U.V. continu.
  3. Système selon la revendication 2, dans lequel ledit laser U.V. continu est un laser à argon à double fréquence ou un laser à solide, à paramètre mixte et à double fréquence.
  4. Système selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 3, comprenant, en outre, un réducteur de cohérence de faisceau optique (235).
  5. Système selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 4, dans lequel ledit ensemble d'illumination comprend une ouverture d'illumination (265, 565) pour ajuster ladite ouverture numérique définie, et dans lequel ledit ensemble de collecte comprend, en outre, une ouverture de collecte (275, 575) pour ajuster ladite ouverture numérique de collecte de la lumière transmise.
  6. système selon la revendication 5, dans lequel ladite ouverture d'illumination (265, 565) comprend une ouverture désaxée.
  7. Système selon l'une quelconque des revendications 5 et 6, dans lequel ledit ensemble d'illumination comprend un jeu de plusieurs ouvertures différentes agencées pour être insérées sélectivement sur le chemin optique du faisceau lumineux incident.
  8. Système selon l'une quelconque des revendications 5 à 7, dans lequel ladite ouverture d'illumination (265, 565) comprend un conformateur de faisceau qui change un profile Gaussien du faisceau laser en un profile au sommet plat.
  9. Système selon la revendication 8, dans lequel ledit conformateur de faisceau est un élément optique de diffraction.
  10. Système selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel ladite unité de détection comprend un tube photomultiplicateur adapté à recevoir lesdits composants de la lumière transmise.
  11. Système selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes comprenant, en outre, un second capteur de lumière (290) pour recevoir les composants de la lumière réfléchis depuis le point sur le réticule et générer des données représentatives de celui-ci qui sont reçues et analysées au niveau de l'unité processeur.
  12. Système selon la revendication 11, dans lequel ledit second capteur de lumière (290) est un tube photomultiplicateur.
  13. Système selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, comprenant, en outre, un capteur de lumière en fond noir (215) pour recevoir les composants de la lumière dispersés depuis le point sur le réticule et générant des données représentatives de celui-ci, qui sont reçues et analysées au niveau de l'unité processeur.
  14. Système selon la revendication 13, dans lequel ledit capteur de lumière en fond noir (215) est un tube photomultiplicateur.
  15. Système selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel ledit appareil de balayage (540) comprend un dispositif diviseur de faisceau pour diviser le faisceau lumineux fourni par la source de lumière (530) en au moins deux faisceaux lumineux incidents, séparés spatialement, le système étant adapté à fonctionner selon un mode de balayage multipoints.
  16. Système selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel ledit ensemble de collecte comprend :
    • une lentille condensatrice (270, 570) située entre ledit réticule et ledit capteur de lumière (280, 580) pour recevoir ladite lumière transmise ; et
    • un ensemble d'ouverture de collecte (275, 575) pour ajuster l'ouverture numérique efficace de ladite lentille condensatrice.
  17. Système selon la revendication 16, dans lequel ledit ensemble d'ouverture de collecte (275, 575) comprend une pluralité d'ouvertures sélectionnables pour ajuster l'ouverture numérique réelle de ladite lentille condensatrice (270, 570).






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