US20100044594A1 - Apparatus for aligning a particle-beam-generated pattern to a pattern on a pre-patterned substrate - Google Patents

Apparatus for aligning a particle-beam-generated pattern to a pattern on a pre-patterned substrate Download PDF

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US20100044594A1
US20100044594A1 US12589479 US58947909A US2010044594A1 US 20100044594 A1 US20100044594 A1 US 20100044594A1 US 12589479 US12589479 US 12589479 US 58947909 A US58947909 A US 58947909A US 2010044594 A1 US2010044594 A1 US 2010044594A1
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pattern
beam
apparatus
substrate
pre
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US12589479
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Jeffrey S. Sullivan
Tony Tiecheng Young
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Applied Materials Inc
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Applied Materials Inc
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01JELECTRIC DISCHARGE TUBES OR DISCHARGE LAMPS
    • H01J37/00Discharge tubes with provision for introducing objects or material to be exposed to the discharge, e.g. for the purpose of examination or processing thereof
    • H01J37/30Electron-beam or ion-beam tubes for localised treatment of objects
    • H01J37/317Electron-beam or ion-beam tubes for localised treatment of objects for changing properties of the objects or for applying thin layers thereon, e.g. for ion implantation
    • H01J37/3174Particle-beam lithography, e.g. electron beam lithography
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B82NANOTECHNOLOGY
    • B82YSPECIFIC USES OR APPLICATIONS OF NANOSTRUCTURES; MEASUREMENT OR ANALYSIS OF NANOSTRUCTURES; MANUFACTURE OR TREATMENT OF NANOSTRUCTURES
    • B82Y10/00Nanotechnology for information processing, storage or transmission, e.g. quantum computing or single electron logic
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B82NANOTECHNOLOGY
    • B82YSPECIFIC USES OR APPLICATIONS OF NANOSTRUCTURES; MEASUREMENT OR ANALYSIS OF NANOSTRUCTURES; MANUFACTURE OR TREATMENT OF NANOSTRUCTURES
    • B82Y40/00Manufacture or treatment of nanostructures
    • GPHYSICS
    • G03PHOTOGRAPHY; CINEMATOGRAPHY; ELECTROGRAPHY; HOLOGRAPHY
    • G03FPHOTOMECHANICAL PRODUCTION OF TEXTURED OR PATTERNED SURFACES, e.g. FOR PRINTING, FOR PROCESSING OF SEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES; MATERIALS THEREFOR; ORIGINALS THEREFOR; APPARATUS SPECIALLY ADAPTED THEREFOR
    • G03F9/00Registration or positioning of originals, masks, frames, photographic sheets or textured or patterned surfaces, e.g. automatically
    • G03F9/70Registration or positioning of originals, masks, frames, photographic sheets or textured or patterned surfaces, e.g. automatically for microlithography
    • G03F9/7003Alignment type or strategy, e.g. leveling, global alignment
    • G03F9/7007Alignment other than original with workpiece
    • G03F9/7015Reference, i.e. alignment of original or workpiece with respect to a reference not on the original or workpiece
    • GPHYSICS
    • G03PHOTOGRAPHY; CINEMATOGRAPHY; ELECTROGRAPHY; HOLOGRAPHY
    • G03FPHOTOMECHANICAL PRODUCTION OF TEXTURED OR PATTERNED SURFACES, e.g. FOR PRINTING, FOR PROCESSING OF SEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES; MATERIALS THEREFOR; ORIGINALS THEREFOR; APPARATUS SPECIALLY ADAPTED THEREFOR
    • G03F9/00Registration or positioning of originals, masks, frames, photographic sheets or textured or patterned surfaces, e.g. automatically
    • G03F9/70Registration or positioning of originals, masks, frames, photographic sheets or textured or patterned surfaces, e.g. automatically for microlithography
    • G03F9/7088Alignment mark detection, e.g. TTR, TTL, off-axis detection, array detector, video detection
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01JELECTRIC DISCHARGE TUBES OR DISCHARGE LAMPS
    • H01J2237/00Discharge tubes exposing object to beam, e.g. for analysis treatment, etching, imaging
    • H01J2237/30Electron or ion beam tubes for processing objects
    • H01J2237/317Processing objects on a microscale
    • H01J2237/3175Lithography
    • H01J2237/31793Problems associated with lithography
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10STECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10S430/00Radiation imagery chemistry: process, composition, or product thereof
    • Y10S430/143Electron beam

Abstract

The apparatus includes a particle beam, having an axis which functions as a primary optical axis, which particle beam is used to generate a pattern on a substrate. The apparatus also includes an optical reader, having an axis which functions as a secondary optical axis. A position fiducial is located at a stationary position relative to the substrate. Registration of a pre-existing pattern and the particle beam axis to the position fiducial periodically during production of a particle-beam-generated pattern continually provides an improvement in the overall alignment of the pattern being created with the pre-existing pattern on the substrate.

Description

  • This application is a divisional application of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/233,616, filed Sep. 23, 2005, which is currently pending.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • In general, the present invention relates to a method of aligning a particle-beam-generated pattern to another pattern on a pre-patterned substrate. The particle beam may be an electron beam, an ion beam, a proton beam, a neutron beam, an X-ray, or a laser beam by way of example. It is understood that a laser beam may not be considered to be a particle beam in some applications; however, for purposes of the present invention, when a particle beam is referred to, “particle beam” includes lasers. The invention is useful for semiconductor manufacturing in general, and is particularly useful in the production of a lithographic mask (reticle) of the kind used to pattern substrates in the semiconductor industry.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE BACKGROUND ART
  • A method which has typically been used to register a particle beam to an existing pattern employs use of the particle beam itself. This approach typically utilizes a back-scatter detector, where particles that experience high-angle scattering events with the target are collected. The particle beam is scanned in a raster pattern over an alignment target, and a back-scatter “image” is generated from the detector signal, where the brightness of each pixel is determined by the number of particles striking the detector in a time period corresponding to that pixel. This self-alignment method is limited by poor contrast with respect to noise.
  • When the target is a lithographic mask, and the particle beam is comprised of electrons, in a region of a mask covered with chrome, relatively few back-scattered electrons result from the chrome, because the chrome is thin and the scattering cross-section is small, owing to the high electron beam energy. Many more back-scattered electrons result from the underlying silicon dioxide (and other oxides) present in the mask structure, because the silicon dioxide portion of the structure is very thick compared to the chrome layer (about 50,000 times thicker). Consequently, a target area where no chrome is present scatters nearly as many electrons as a region where chrome is present. When analyzing this back-scatter image of a chrome pattern, the poor contrast makes pattern edge identification difficult (i.e. noisy), and the ability to determine the centroid location of the pattern is also poor.
  • When the particle beam used to create the pattern is an electron beam, another problem is the thermal expansion of the substrate during creation of the pattern. This makes it difficult to register an electron beam to write a new pattern in a proper relationship to a pre-existing pattern on the substrate, using the electron beam itself as a reference. U.S. Pat. No. 6,424,879 to Chilese et al., issued Jul. 23, 2002, describes an electron beam writing system which includes an electron beam patterning machine operable to emit an electron beam to form a pattern on a substrate. A computer control system, coupled to the electron beam patterning machine, has a plurality of pre-computed distortion maps. Each distortion map describes expected distortions of the substrate caused by exposure of the substrate to the electron beam. The computer control system controls the electron beam patterning machine using the distortion maps in order to adjust for the expected distortions. The invention makes use of one or more pre-computed distortion maps which describe the thermal and/or mechanical responses of a substrate to electron beam patterning. The distortion maps are used, in conjunction with pattern writing data, to determine the distortions expected in a patterning process, so that adjustments can be made. Because the distortion maps are pre-computed, the computational time required to calculate the thermal distortions is significantly reduced.
  • The concept of correcting for distortions which will occur during writing of an image on a substrate based on data obtained during writing of that same image on an equivalent substrate at an earlier time is also discussed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,833,158 issued to Sandstrom et al. on Apr. 19, 2005. In particular, the invention is said to relate to a method and a system for predicting and correcting geometrical errors in lithography using masks, such as large-area photomasks or reticles, and exposure stations, such as wafer steppers or projection aligners. The method comprises the steps of collecting information about a mask substrate, mask writer, an exposure station, and/or about behavior of a processing step that will occur after the writing of the mask. Further the method comprises predicting, from the combined information, distortions which will occur in the pattern when it is subsequently printed on the workpiece; calculating from the prediction a correction to diminish the predicted distortion, and exposing the pattern onto the mask substrate while applying the correction for the predicted distortions.
  • When it is desired to align an electron-beam-generated pattern to a pattern already present on a substrate, the process becomes even more complicated, since it becomes necessary to factor in distortions which are occurring in the first pattern relative to distortions occurring in the second pattern, during the second patterning process, in which the substrate may be affected differently by the processing variables. Any errors in the correction of geometrical relationships based on predicted behavior become cumulative. With this in mind, it would be highly desirable to have a method of alignment of an electron-beam generated pattern to a pattern already present on a substrate which provides an essentially “real time” assessment of any drift in the relative positions of the pre-existing pattern on the substrate to that of the pattern which is currently being written.
  • Fabrication of a semiconductor device or a photomask/reticle is a complicated process involving a number of interrelated steps which affect the feature placements or the critical dimensions of various patterns produced. Whether the feature placements or the critical dimensions at issue are those of patterns on a semiconductor wafer, or those of patterns on a reticle used to pattern a semiconductor wafer, the semiconductor device may not meet specification if related patterns of materials on multiple layers within the device are not properly aligned. An ability to adjust the alignment of a newly forming pattern relative to an underlying pre-existing pattern on a substrate as the pattern is being formed would make the pattern formation process more adaptable in response to a need to change other substrate processing conditions. When processing conditions are changed during semiconductor device manufacturing or during reticle fabrication, the reproducibility of the manufacturing process itself may be altered, including the process window. Process window refers to the amount process conditions can be varied without having a detrimental outcome on the product produced. The larger the processing window, the greater change permitted in processing conditions without a detrimental affect on the product. Thus, the ability to adjust a pattern alignment during pattern formation would be especially valuable in terms of processing window, and a broader processing window generally results in a higher yield of in-specification product produced.
  • It would be highly desirable to be able to periodically reassess the relative geometrical locations of a pre-existing pattern on a substrate with a second pattern which is currently being developed on the substrate, so that more precise corrections can be made for drift, thermal expansion, gravitational sag, or other changes which affect the alignment of patterns relative to each other during fabrication.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is an illustration of one embodiment of a lay out of apparatus which can be used to carry out the invention.
  • FIG. 2 shows the use of a secondary optical axis 206, such as an optical microscope, to develop a relationship between a position fiducial 204 and the coordinates of alignment target locations, 208-220, for example, of a pre-existing pattern on a substrate, where the relationship includes the determination of vectors, where each vector represents a path between the position fiducial 204 and an alignment target location.
  • FIG. 3 shows the use of a secondary optical axis 306, as described with respect to optical axis 206 of FIG. 2, to develop a relationship between a position fiducial 304 and alignment target locations, 308-324, for example, of a pre-existing pattern on a substrate. Subsequently, a primary optical axis 366, such as a particle beam axis, is used in combination with the position fiducial 304 and vectors 368-382 previously determined for the pre-existing pattern using the secondary optical axis, to generate corresponding alignment target locations 308-324, for example, on the substrate 302, which are related to the location of the primary optical axis 366.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • As a preface to the detailed description, it should be noted that, as used in this specification and the appended claims, the singular forms “a”, “an”, and “the” include plural referents, unless the-context clearly dictates otherwise.
  • Use of the term “about” herein indicates that the named variable may vary to ±10%.
  • We have been able to significantly improve the alignment of a particle-beam-generated pattern relative to a pre-existing pattern present on a substrate using optical measurement to register the particle beam to a pre-existing pattern. Use of a position fiducial which can be accurately measured by both an optical microscope (or other optical reader) and a particle beam axis enables alignment of a pre-existing pattern with a particle-beam-generated pattern during writing of the particle-beam-generated pattern. The alignment is achieved using the position fiducial location in combination with vectors which indicate the location path of targets on the pre-existing pattern. Registration of the pre-existing pattern to the fiducial and registration of the particle beam axis to the fiducial periodically, during production of the particle-beam-generated pattern, continually provides an improvement in the overall alignment of the pattern being created to the pre-existing pattern on the substrate. Often the improved alignment is the result of a correction for drift, or thermal expansion, or gravitational sag, or a combination these, which is occurring during creation of the new pattern by the particle beam. Since the registration of a given point location on the pre-existing pattern relative to the position fiducial may be optically determined and the registration of a given point location on a second, new pattern which is being created may also be determined relative to the position fiducial in a matter of seconds, the particle beam which is currently creating the pattern may be adjusted in seconds to provide improved alignment with the pre-existing pattern. A “real time” assessment of the distortions between the pre-existing pattern and the new pattern may be made in a matter of seconds or minutes, where comparisons of more than three (typically eight or more) optical determinations of pre-existing pattern target locations are made. This real time adjustment of the particle beam being used to create the pattern provides a continual improvement in the overall alignment of the pattern being created to the pre-existing pattern on the substrate. An excellent embodiment for use of this technology is in the fabrication of photomask/reticles of the kind used for semiconductor production.
  • An optical microscope provides higher contrast to noise than the backscattering method of determining location which was described in the background art. Under the right conditions, greater than 75% of incident light will reflect (and be detected by an optical camera) from a layer of chrome of the kind which is used in the fabrication of reticles, where less than 5% of incident light will be reflected from exposed silicon dioxide regions, for example. In practice, the contrast will depend on the specifics of the substrate and the optics involved, including the illumination. One of skill in the art will be able to envision applications of the method to a variety of substrates, which are considered to be included within the method of the invention. The higher contrast-to noise makes determining the position of the alignment target more accurate.
  • The use of a position fiducial that can be accurately measured by both an optical microscope and an electron-beam, for example, typically employs a transmission feature fabricated into silicon or metal. This fiducial acts to bridge the independent coordinate systems measured at either the optical microscope or the particle beam. As a consequence, the knowledge of the relative positions of the particle beam column and optical microscope becomes unimportant. The drift between the optical microscope and the particle beam column does not matter because vectors are used as a coordinating system to retain pattern alignments. Further, alignment marks can be placed inside active areas of a photoresist used to fabricate a device or within photoresist active areas during fabrication of a reticle, since appropriate optical illumination will not expose a photoresist which is sensitive to particle beam radiation.
  • An apparatus which may be used to align a particle-beam-generated pattern to a pre-existing pattern on a substrate, comprises:
      • a primary beam optical axis in the form of a particle beam axis, which particle beam is used to generate a pattern;
      • a secondary optical axis in the form of an optical microscope/optical reader axis;
      • a position fiducial (also referred to as a grid), which is located at a stationary position relative to the substrate; and
      • a controller adapted to control the operation of the particle beam and the optical microscope axis, where the controller is also adapted to calculate at least three vectors from the position fiducial to at least three alignment target locations on a substrate exhibiting a pre-existing pattern, where the vectors are determined using the secondary optical axis, and wherein the controller coordinates the at least three vectors with a location of the position fiducial measured by the primary optical axis to conform the primary beam optical axis to an alignment with respect to the pre-existing pattern during writing of a particle-beam-generated pattern on the substrate.
  • The use of three alignment target locations permits registration of the primary optical axis relative to the pre-existing pattern on the substrate, but does not provide any distortion information. Each additional alignment target location determined as a part of the process improves the distortion information available. Typically about 8 to about 16 alignment target locations provides helpful distortion information. Often the fabrication process itself limits the number of alignment target locations which can be measured. In terms of timing for real time alignment and correction of the location of the primary optical axis during pattern writing, the larger the number of measurements which need to be made, the longer the time period required, and this creates a limitation in itself. Typically, the coarse locations of alignment targets with respect to the position fiducial on a substrate are known to better than the field of view of the optical microscope, so that the precise locations of the alignment targets can be determined without first searching for the targets. For purposes of this invention, any method may be used to determine the coarse locations of the alignment targets, for example, precision mechanical alignment of the substrate with respect to the position fiducial, a second optical microscope with a larger field of view (which typically exhibits poorer location accuracy), or tiling several optical microscope images together to create a composite image over a larger extent (area) than a single field of view.
  • A method of aligning a particle-beam-generated pattern to a pre-existing pattern on a substrate, comprising:
      • a) providing a primary beam optical axis in the form of a particle beam axis, wherein said particle beam is used to generate a pattern;
      • b) providing a secondary optical axis in the form of an optical reader axis;
      • c) providing a position fiducial at a fixed location relative to the substrate (often the position fiducial is located on the substrate stage);
      • d) providing a controller adapted to control the operation of the particle beam axis and the optical microscope axis, wherein the controller is also adapted to calculate a plurality of vectors from the position fiducial to a plurality of locations on the pre-existing pattern;
      • e) using the secondary optical axis to determine a feature (such as a centroid) location of the position fiducial, and calculating coordinates x0y0 of the feature location;
      • f) moving the substrate under the secondary optical axis such that an alignment target is within a field of view of the secondary optical axis, and calculating coordinates x1y1 of the alignment target location;
      • g) calculating an alignment vector for the alignment target, which vector is l1=(x1−x0)x+(y1−y0)y;
      • h) calculating at least 2 additional alignment vectors for at least 2 additional alignment target locations using steps f) and g);
      • i) moving the position fiducial under the primary beam optical axis, and scanning a particle beam from the primary beam optical axis in a manner to determine a feature (such as a centroid) location of the position fiducial;
      • j) calculating coordinates (x′0, y′0) of the position fiducial for the primary beam optical axis;
      • k) calculating a location for previously-determined alignment target locations on the substrate by applying corresponding location vectors ln, where n is an integer ranging from 3 to about 16, to the coordinates (x′0, y′0) which represent a starting location of the primary optical axis; and
      • l) using a plurality of alignment target locations relative to a location of the primary beam optical axis to conform the primary beam optical axis to an alignment with respect to the pre-existing pattern during writing of a particle-beam-generated pattern on the substrate.
  • Additional coordinate transforms may be applied to known coordinates (in the primary optical axis coordinate space) with respect to alignment target locations of the pre-existing pattern on the substrate, to correct for scale, orthogonality, or other errors which may become apparent during writing of a new electron-beam-generated pattern on the substrate containing a pre-existing pattern.
  • Example Example One
  • FIG. 1 is a schematic drawing which shows an embodiment of the apparatus 100 which may be used to carry out the invention. The substrate 106 on which a pre-existing pattern (not shown) was created is positioned upon a substrate stage 102. The substrate stage also includes a position fiducial 104 which is in a fixed position relative to substrate 106. An optical reader, in the form of an optical microscope 108, including an optical axis 110 is used to scan a position fiducial 104, typically located on substrate stage 102, and alignment target locations upon a pre-existing pattern (not shown) present on the substrate 106. The scanned data for alignment target locations (not shown) on the pre-existing pattern (not shown) is recorded in imager 112 which is a CMOS camera or CCD camera, for example, and (typically digital) data is sent from imager 112 to a controller/computer 118, which calculates coordinates for the alignment target locations and also calculates vectors from the position fiducial 104 to each alignment target location.
  • With further reference to FIG. 1, the apparatus 100 also includes a particle beam apparatus 114, having an axis 116 which is used to scan the position fiducial 104 initially, and then is used subsequently to create a pattern on the substrate 106. In FIG. 1, the particle beam apparatus 114 is an electron beam. The electron beam collects current that is not blocked by the grid/position fiducial. The electron beam is much smaller than the position fiducial, so most of the time the current is either transmitted or blocked, with edges transmitting fractions. The current transmission data is digitalized and sent to controller/computer 118. The controller/computer 118 uses the particle beam 114 scanned data from position fiducial 104 in combination with the vectors calculated from the optical microscope 108 data to determine the alignment target locations of the pre-existing pattern on the substrate relative to the particle beam 114 axis 116.
  • Coordinates for the location of alignment target locations (not shown) on substrate 106 relative to the location of the particle beam 114 axis 116 are calculated using the controller/computer 118. The controller/computer 118 is programmed to create a new pattern which is to be aligned with the pre-existing pattern present on the substrate 106. At the beginning, the creation of the new pattern is based on the coordinates for the location of the pre-existing pattern alignment target locations determined by the optical microscope 108 prior to initiation of new pattern creation. As new pattern creation proceeds on substrate 106, the optical microscope is again scanned over the position fiducial 104 and over pre-existing pattern alignment locations, to provide an adjusted location for the pre-existing pattern alignment target locations relative to position fiducial 104. The electron beam 114 axis 116 is also scanned over position fiducial 104, and new coordinates for the location of pattern feature alignment target locations on the substrate 106 relative to the location of particle beam 114 axis 116 are determined. The controller then calculates any correction to the location at which the new pattern should be created and adjusts the particle beam 114 axis 116 to implement this correction.
  • The controller/computer 118 referenced above may be any one of a number of controllers of the kind used in the art of registration and alignment in the semiconductor industry.
  • As previously mentioned, by selecting a photoresist which is not affected by the optical process used to measure the location of the pattern feature alignment targets, it is possible to accumulate registration and alignment information without affecting the creation of the new pattern which is to be aligned with the pre-existing pattern on a substrate.
  • Example Two
  • FIG. 2 illustrates the initial registration of pre-existing pattern alignment targets 208, 210, 212, 214, 216, 218, 220 present on a substrate 202, using an optical microscope 206. A position fiducial 204 which is in a fixed position relative to substrate 202 was scanned and imaged by an optical reader, in this case optical microscope 206, while the stage (not shown) was at stage position “A” relative to substrate 202 and position fiducial 204. Coordinates (x0, y0) for a centroid of position fiducial 204 were determined. The stage (not shown) was then mover to position “B” so that optical microscope 206 was at the position shown on FIG. 2 relative to substrate 202 and position fiducial 204. The coordinates (xn, yn) were then determined for a nominal number of pre-existing pattern alignment targets, such as 208, 210, 212, 214, 216, 218, and 220. The minimum number of pattern alignment targets which may be used for registration is three. However distortion in the actual pattern from a desired pattern will not be indicated by three targets. Typically about eight pattern alignment targets are used to get a good distortion picture. Additional pattern alignment targets provide additional information, which improves the accuracy of a distortion picture; however additional pattern alignment targets require additional time for measurement, and this places limitations on the measurement process. Up to 16 additional pattern alignment targets have been used during photomask/reticle pattern creation, since this is a process which progresses at a speed which permits time for the use of this number of pattern alignment targets. Typically, about 2 seconds are required to register an individual pattern alignment target to the position fiducial.
  • In FIG. 2, the stage positions “A” and “B” show how the centroid position of the position fiducial 204 was determined using optical microscope 206 at stage position “A”, and then the stage was moved to place optical microscope 206 over a pre-existing pattern alignment target 220, which was scanned and imaged by optical microscope 206 and a centroid for the pattern alignment feature target 220 was determined. The imaging of pattern alignment target 220 was done at the first of several stage positions within the general stage position “B”. It is not necessary that the precise dimensions of the pattern at location 220 be determined, but only that the centroid of a feature at that location be determined. At this centroid location,.coordinates (x220, Y220) were determined. The stage was then moved to place optical microscope 206 over another pattern alignment feature target 216, at a second location within general stage position “B”, where the centroid for the pattern alignment feature target 216 was determined. Coordinates (x216, y216) were calculated. This process was carried out a number of times, to provide coordinates for the centroids of other pre-existing pattern alignment target such as 208, 210, 212, 214, or 218, by way of example. A location vector l220, which extends from position fiducial (x0,y0) to pattern alignment feature target 220 was calculated by the computer/controller 118 illustrated with respect to FIG. 1. A location vector l216, which extends from position fiducial (x0,y0) to pattern alignment feature target 216 was calculated by the computer/controller 118. The other location vectors were also calculated as well. Once all of the desired location vectors were calculated, the new pattern (not shown) was created to be in alignment with the pre-existing pattern present on substrate 202.
  • As discussed above, the centroids of the various pre-existing pattern feature alignment targets may be re-measured relative to the position fiducial 204 during the process of writing a new pattern. This is necessary if changes in substrate 202 affect the location of the pre-existing pattern feature alignment targets and the location vectors which are used for alignment of the new pattern which is being created require correction.
  • Example Three
  • FIG. 3 illustrates the manner in which a relationship between the particle beam axis and the pre-existing pattern feature alignment targets is developed. Periodic reassessment of this relationship during writing of a pattern with the particle beam enables continual alignment of the new pattern which is being created with the pre-existing pattern on the substrate. Schematic 300 of the method elements and system includes an optical section 301 and a particle beam section 303. The optical section 301 mirrors the illustration in FIG. 2. Initial registration of pre-existing pattern alignment targets 308, 310, 312, 314, 316, 318, 320, 322, and 324 present on a substrate 302, the optics image of the pre-existing pattern, is accomplished using an optical reader 306 such as an optical microscope. The imaging of position fiducial 304, which is in a stationary relationship with respect to substrate 302, was carried out when the substrate stage was at position “A” relative to optical reader 306. The optical reader 306, with the substrate stage at position “A” scans the position fiducial 304 and determines a location for a particular feature location for the position fiducial, and the scanned data is used to calculate position fiducial 304 feature coordinates, typically a centroid coordinate (x0, y0). The substrate stage (not shown) is then moved to one of a number of positions within general stage position “B”. The optical reader 306 at a first location within general stage position “B” over the substrate 302 may determine feature coordinates for a first pre-existing pattern alignment target such as 322, for example. The substrate stage is then moved to a second location within general stage position “B” to determine feature coordinates for a second pre-existing pattern alignment target such as 320, for example. The optical reader 306 is used to image a number of pre-existing pattern alignment targets, and the data is sent to a controller/computer such as 118 shown in FIG. 1, for calculation of coordinates. The pattern alignment targets are selected to be at locations on the pre-existing pattern which are considered to be the most useful in determining whether pattern distortion of the pre-existing pattern is occurring during formation of the new pattern which is being aligned with the pre-existing pattern. In schematic 300, optical section 301, the coordinates (xn, yn) are determined for a nominal number of pre-existing pattern alignment target features, such as 308, 310, 312, 314, 316, 318, 320, 322, and 324, for example and not by way of limitation. As previously mentioned, typically about eight pattern alignment targets are used to get a good indication of whether there has been distortion and how much distortion has occurred. Up to 16 additional pattern alignment targets have been used during photomask/reticle pattern creation, since this is a process which progresses at a speed which permits time for the use of this number of pattern alignment targets.
  • The movement from position fiducial 304 to a pre-existing pattern alignment target feature follows a vector ln. A location vector is calculated for each pattern alignment target feature, for example, location vector 308 extends from position fiducial coordinates (x0,y0) to pattern alignment feature target 308 coordinates (x308,y308); location vector l310 extends from position fiducial coordinates (x0,y0) to pattern alignment feature target 310 coordinates (x310,y310); and so on. This initial set of position alignment vectors is used in combination with the position fiducial coordinates as an initial registration of the pre-existing pattern locations.
  • The obtaining of an initial registration of the pre-existing pattern with respect to the particle beam 366 is shown in schematic 300 particle beam section 303. With the substrate stage at position “C”, the particle beam 366 was used to scan and image position fiducial 304, inputting data into the controller/computer 118 for calculation of the position fiducial coordinates (x′0,y′0). The location vectors l338, l340, l342, l344, l346, l348, l350, l352, and l354 for example, for the pre-existing pattern alignment features determined using the optical reader, were then used in combination with the particle beam 366 data for the position fiducial 304, to provide particle beam location vectors l368, l370, l372, l374, l376, l378, l380, l382, and l384, for the location of pattern alignment features 308, 310, 312, 314, 316, 318, 320, 322, and 324, with respect to the axis of particle beam 366, for example. A combination of the particle beam 366 position fiducial 304 coordinates (x′0,y′0) with the particle beam location vectors l368, l370, l372, l374, l376, l378, l380, l382, and l384 registers the pre-existing pattern within the particle beam coordinates system. The new pattern which is being created while the substrate stage is moved within general stage position “D” can then be aligned with the pre-existing pattern, illustrated as features 308, 310, 312, 314, 316, 318, 320, 322, and 324, for example, on the substrate 302. Since it takes only seconds to scan the position fiducial and an individual pre-existing pattern alignment target feature using the optical reader 306, and to convert the vectors from optical reader coordinates to particle beam coordinates, a continual updating of the location of pre-existing pattern alignment features on the substrate with the location of the axis of the particle beam may be carried out. This continual updating of the alignment of the actual, real time alignment between the pre-existing pattern and the particle beam writing the new pattern permits a more accurate alignment of the new pattern as it is created. Errors in alignment which would have been present due to factors such as drift, or thermal expansion, or gravitational sag, or a combination thereof, can be substantially reduced if not eliminated altogether.
  • While the invention has been described in detail above with reference to particular schematics and drawings, various modifications within the scope and spirit of the invention will be apparent to those of working skill in this technological field. One skilled in the art, upon reading applicants' disclosure, can make use of various particle beams and registration and alignment hardware and software known in the art to take advantage of the invention disclosed. Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be measured by the appended claims.

Claims (16)

  1. 1-13. (canceled)
  2. 14. An apparatus used to align a particle-beam-generated pattern to a pre-existing pattern on a substrate, said apparatus comprising:
    a) a primary beam optical axis in the form of a particle beam axis, which particle beam is used to generate a pattern;
    b) a secondary optical axis in the form of an optical reader axis;
    c) a position fiducial located at a stationary position relative to said substrate; and
    d) a controller adapted to control an operation of said particle beam and said optical reader axis, where said controller is adapted to calculate at least 3 vectors from said position fiducial to at least three alignment target locations on a substrate exhibiting a pre-existing pattern, where said vectors are determined using said secondary optical axis, and wherein said controller coordinates said at least 3 vectors with a location of said position fiducial measured by said primary beam optical axis, to conform said primary beam optical axis to an alignment with respect to said pre-existing pattern during writing of a particle-beam-generated pattern on said substrate.
  3. 15. An apparatus in accordance with claim 14, wherein said particle beam is selected from the group consisting of an electron beam, an ion beam, a laser beam, a proton beam, a neutron beam, or an X-ray.
  4. 16. An apparatus in accordance with claim 15, wherein said position fiducial is present on a stage on which said substrate is mounted.
  5. 17. An apparatus in accordance with claim 14, wherein said position fiducial is present in a form of a grid.
  6. 18. An apparatus in accordance with claim 14, wherein said position fiducial can be accurately measured by both an optical reader and a particle beam.
  7. 19. An apparatus in accordance with claim 14, including means for registration of a pre-existing pattern to said position fiducial and means for registration of an optical axis of said particle beam to said position fiducial periodically during production of a pattern generated by said particle beam.
  8. 20. An apparatus in accordance with claim 18, wherein said optical reader is an optical microscope and said particle beam is an electron beam.
  9. 21. An apparatus in accordance with claim 18, wherein said position fiducial includes a transmission feature fabricated into silicon or metal.
  10. 22. An apparatus in accordance with claim 14 wherein an optical illumination used to implement said optical reader will not expose a photoresist which is sensitive to radiation from said particle beam.
  11. 23. An apparatus in accordance with claim 14, where said controller is adapted to calculate from 3 alignment target locations up to about 16 alignment target locations.
  12. 24. An apparatus in accordance with claim 23, wherein said calculated alignment target locations ranges in number from about 8 to about 16.
  13. 25. An apparatus in accordance with claim 14, which includes an imager which sends scanned data for alignment target locations to said controller.
  14. 26. An apparatus in accordance with claim 25 where said imager sends digital data.
  15. 27. An apparatus in accordance with claim 25, wherein said imager is a CMOS camera or a CCD camera.
  16. 28. An apparatus in accordance with claim 14, wherein said particle beam which creates a pattern on said substrate also scans said position fiducial.
US12589479 2005-09-23 2009-10-22 Apparatus for aligning a particle-beam-generated pattern to a pattern on a pre-patterned substrate Abandoned US20100044594A1 (en)

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WO2007038134A2 (en) 2007-04-05 application
US20070072099A1 (en) 2007-03-29 application

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