Oliver Luft, Head of Sales and Service SMS, China / Taiwan
Since its inception, ZEISS has been the cradle of innovation for ‘many a technology’, serving as the definitive foundation for versatile products and solutions. Over the years the company has nurtured groundbreaking innovations. From optics designed for the first Wafer Stepper, in the market to the Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) optics for serial manufacturing of latest generation chips, or the future optics technology used in next generation EUV systems, precision has been and will remain the name of the game for ZEISS.
In 1968, ZEISS started its activities in the semiconductor business supplying a lens for a circuit board exposure device. At the time, the predecessor of today’s wafer scanners for chip production mapped structures of more than ten micrometers in size. Over the years, ZEISS Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology (SMT) segment pioneered leading-edge optics technologies for all wavelengths of advanced lithography systems, made by Dutch high tech company ASML. The strategic partnership with ASML began back in 1997 with the continuing goal to maintain and expand their joint technology and market leadership. The trusting collaboration as ‘two companies, one business’ is one of the success factors of ZEISS in the field of semiconductor manufacturing equipment.
Interestingly, although there have been several candidates for “Next Generation Lithography” to continue Moore’s Law over the last 20 years— such as electron beam or ion beam methods—none of these approaches led to success. Using water as an immersion liquid and applying multiple exposure processes, the 193nm technology architecture was pushed to the limits of affordability. With the finer resolution of EUV lithography, the semiconductor manufacturing space has been strengthened significantly, owing to the strategic partnership of ASML, ZEISS, TRUMPF, and Fraunhofer IOF. “EUV is a future-proof technology backed by thousands of patents forming the basis for the digitalization of our daily lives and enabling applications such as automated driving, 5G, artificial intelligence, and other future innovations. By enabling the manufacturing of the next generation of microchips, EUV lithography is going to keep Moore’s Law alive for at least another decade,” highlights Dr. Markus Weber, ZEISS Group Executive Board member and head of the Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology segment.
Mastery over Physics
ZEISS designs, develops and distributes highly innovative optics solutions for a broad range of markets. The name ZEISS is also synonymous with the world’s leading lithography optics. Based on this broad technology portfolio, ZEISS has developed innovative process control solutions for the semiconductor industry that deliver actionable information for semiconductor device fabrication and advanced packaging.
“As a company of the Carl Zeiss Foundation, responsible action is a top priority for ZEISS and is a contributing factor to its long-term success”
In the field of photomask technologies, a broad range of leading-edge mask solutions enable customers to meet tightest specifications for manufacturing defect-free photomasks.
Especially the photomask solutions cover a broad range of technology nodes and customer requirements. Leading edge captive mask shops looking for pioneering solutions for EUV mask manufacturing whereas merchant mask makers focusing more on cost-effective solutions for mature nodes.
A key enabler is the closed-loop solution for defectivity. Hard defects on photomasks of all kind of materials can be reliably repaired by the e-beam based MeRiT® technology. For latest technologies it addresses the special needs for EUV such as increasing defectivity with shrinking feature sizes or new kinds of defects. MeRiT® LE convinces with an improved edge placement accuracy to address the increased number and complexity of pattern defects on high-end photomasks.
To close the loop aerial images are taken by the AIMS® EUV to asses the printability of repaired defects on photomasks. Of course AIMS® systems are not only used for EUV in manufacturing, they are also offered for 248nm and 193nm lithography.
The photomask systems, especially the qualification and metrology systems rely on high resolution optics. Owing to high resolution optics, the mask registration tool PROVE® works with a litho-grade 193nm optics for lowest aberrations. The system offers a better resolution than any other optical registration measurement tool with an NA of 0.8 for the measurement of smallest production features.
Diversifying the Applicability of Optics
The semiconductor manufacturing sector has been incorporating quite a few novel materials, in addition to complex 3D structures, to address a myriad of applicability requirements. Combined with continuously shrinking feature sizes, the resulting new processes drive the need for further failure analysis and process control methods.
Per FIB-SEM 3D Tomography, device manufacturers produce structures ranging in scale from microns to single nanometers, almost always including 3D structures such as FinFETs and 3D NAND. Yet process development and control of these 3D structures rely on 2D imaging (mostly S/ TEM), effectively limiting the measurements to 2D planes. Because of the high resolution of TEM, the small FOVs employed in these techniques limit the number of structures that can be measured and thus increase the number of S/TEM samples required to obtain statistically accurate measurements.
Contrary to these practices, the ZEISS Crossbeam is a next-generation FIB-SEM that amalgamates imaging, milling, and analytical performance for nanoscale 3D tomography and sample preparation. The modular platform concept and the open, easily extendable software architecture of this 3D nano-workstation enables high throughput for process control, structural inspection, and failure analysis.
FIB-SEM tomography offers a 3D complement to TEM for metrology because it provides the opportunity for volume-based measurements at high enough resolution for various process steps, even for advanced nodes.
Another critical hurdle that semiconductor manufacturers struggle with is efficiently determining the root causes of device failures. To elaborate, as packaging architectures become more and more 3D in nature and feature sizes shrink, it is increasingly difficult to isolate and troubleshoot failures. At this juncture, the ZEISS X-ray microscopes provide a non-destructive, high-resolution fault imaging solution that increases the success rate of physical failure analysis for semiconductor packages mitigating issues concerning the mechanical cross-sectional imaging of the defect location and more. The ‘ZEISS Xradia Versa’ family of 3D X-ray microscopes provide the highest resolution with contrasting capabilities for computed tomography beyond the conventional Micro-CT. These instruments solve emerging imaging challenges for next-generation semiconductor packaging.
Seeing beyond and the Promise of Excellence
All these fascinating solutions enabling customers in the semiconductor industry found on 174 years of experience. Already in the very beginning corporate responsibility was one of the companies` main cornerstones. “Responsible action is a top priority for ZEISS, and is a contributing factor to its long-term success, whether in regard to its employees, social engagement, environment, or integrity and compliance,” emphasizes Oliver Luft, head of sales and service ZEISS SMT, China / Taiwan. “Co-determination is a very important aspect of involving employees in organizational activities. The more involved employees feel at the company, the more motivated they are.”
Alongside these areas of development, ZEISS offers training opportunities for individuals and groups alike and works with various universities. It provides vocational training programs, in addition to combined degree-and-vocational-training programs. Participants across these programs are encouraged to correlate theoretical knowledge with real-world applications, all the while being trained in the fields of industrial mechanics, precision optics, mechatronics, and industrial business management, or procure a combined degree of discrete areas altogether. A combination of these training programs, the company’s proficiency in optics technology, and a strong foothold within the semiconductor manufacturing space is the company’s recipe for success. Over the years, ZEISS has improvised on the founders’ legacy and traversed the technological curve to address a competitive marketplace’s diversified requirements. The company builds upon this track record and stands tall as the hallmark of precision in the optics technology space.
ZEISS already has a strong footprint in Asia with many sales and service sites in different countries. “In semiconductor industry it is key to closely stay to customer sites to better serve our customers and shorten resonsponse times. Joint collaborations are essential to understand requirements and be able to provide the best solutions. We will strengthen our local network in the next years by establishing further local partnerships with companies, universities or institutes,” summarizes Luft.