All posts by Chris

SPIE Advanced Lithography Symposium 2021 – prologue

Beginning in 2006, I have blogged each year at the SPIE Advanced Lithography Symposium, the major event of the year in the field of lithography and patterning.  Each morning of the conference I would wake up very early and write a post about my impressions from the day before.  (A complete collection of these “conference diaries” can be found here.)  I have always enjoyed the process of writing, and even more enjoyed the reactions these posts got.  Numerous people, unable to attend, would following along with my posts and capture just a small sense of what this fantastic event was all about.  Putting my thoughts into words has always been clarifying for me, with the added benefit of helping me organize the massive amount of information that was flooding over me, with the hope that some if that knowledge might stick.

This blogging tradition is just one more casualty of the crazy pandemic year.  At last year’s conference we were all talking about Covid, using hand sanitizer, and wondering whether it would actually turn into a pandemic.  I think, in hindsight, we were very lucky that the 2,000 attendees had no known transmissions during the conference.  Within two weeks of the end of AL 2020 much of the country began shutting down.

And now it is one year later.  An in-person conference is out of the question.  Instead, SPIE has created a “Digital Forum” for AL 2021.  There will be a few “live” events sprinkled throughout the week, but all of the technical talks have been prerecorded and are available for viewing at any time during the week to conference “attendees”.  The registration fee for the conference is about half the cost for attending in-person last year.  The first live event will be the conference kick-off on Monday (8am pacific time).

Of course, I will miss being there in person, seeing old friends and making new ones, talking in the hallways, drinking too much coffee in the mornings and beer in the evenings, laughing and learning, even doing a little business on the side.  I will miss seeing the audience when I give a talk.  I will miss approaching the microphone to ask a question after listening to someone else’s talk.  But given our current reality, I am looking forward to attending this week’s on-line events and binge-watching technical talks.  I’ll take advantage of the unique benefits of asynchronous viewing, slowing down or speeding up the flow of information to my needs and desires.  It won’t be perfect, but I think it will be good.  Let the Digital Forum begin!

Bill Arnold

It is with great sadness that I report the death of my friend and colleague William (Bill) Arnold. He died this morning after a long battle with cancer.

I met Bill in 1986, when he was already an important figure in the field of lithography. At AMD he blended theoretical understanding of imaging with the practical know-how of getting things done in manufacturing. He went on to become Chief Scientist at ASML before retiring a couple of years ago. He was also President of SPIE in 2013, one of his many acts of giving back to the community that he loved.

But these and many other technical achievements, numerous and significant though they were, pale in comparison to the humanity and generosity that defined Bill’s personal impact throughout his career. He was wicked smart, clear and insightful, and always willing to discuss or explain a subtle point. He was honest and straightforward, someone you could trust to be forthright even when business was on the line or competitors were in the room. He cared deeply about his work, and the lithography community he spent so many years working within. He was greatly respected as a technologist, manager, colleague, and friend.

In short, he was the kind of person I admired and strived to be like. I will miss him.

Added note to my post: Here is the SPIE “In Memoriam” post for Bill.

https://spie.org/news/william-arnold_obit

The Bacchanalians Return

In years past, the annual SPIE conference on photomask technology (referred to as BACUS by us old-timers) included an entertainment program with insider jokes and songs from industry folks (who called themselves “Bacchanalians”). The conference was all online this year, so some of the Bacchanalians made of few videos in the spirit of the BACUS entertainment. Thanks to Any Neureuther, Bryan Reese, and Tony Vacca for giving us something to smile about, and for reminding us of the long tradition of fun we had at the BACUS Entertainment.

Andy Neureuther inspires the NFL

EUV-a-Matic 2020

Masks for the Internet of Things

Where I am NOT this week

Like most people, I am at home this week. Where I am NOT is New Orleans, attending the 3-beams conference (EIPBN, the Electron, Ion, and Photon Beam Technology and Nanofabrication conference), which has been canceled this year. To see where I hope to be this time next year, this is how the conference chairs announced the venue for 2021:

Solar Panels, Year 3

Here is another annual update on my solar production and electricity consumption. In late January, 2017, I turned on my new solar panels. I have 30 panels, 320 W each, for a total capacity of 9.6 kW (LG320 NeON2 MonoX Plus panels with microedge converters). In the first year I generated 96% of the electricity I consumed (a magical year, with near perfect weather – sunny, but not too hot). The second year was not as good since my consumption went up 6% and my generation was down 10%. The result was that my panels generated 81% of my usage for the second year. The third year is off a little more. My consumption when up 1.5%, and my generation was down 5% compared to the second year. The final result is that the panels generated 76% of my usage in the third year. The weather is the biggest variable, and I need to find an authority that measures the amount of sunshine in Austin so that I can try and determine if there are any other factors than that at play.

A lithography casualty

The canceling of conferences has become an inevitable consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Today the first lithography conference took a hit.  The 64th International Conference on Electron, Ion, And Photon Beam Technology and Nanofabrication (EIPBN, also known as three-beams or triple beam), scheduled for the end of May in New Orleans, has been cancelled.  I’ve enjoyed this conference many times in past years, and I look forward to attending again in the future.

COVID-19: the data

Like almost everyone else, I am now hunkering down in my house doing the “social distancing” thing. Since the announcement of the first confirmed coronavirus cases in Austin Thursday night (less than four days ago), events have been accelerating almost as fast as the virus has been spreading. My kids are on Spring break, but I doubt they will be going back to school next week. The supermarket shelves are getting bare. I work from home anyway, so that is no change for me.

Like everyone else, I am consuming the news about the spread of this disease. But as a data geek, I want more than what you find in the newspapers (yes, I’m old school – news is something you read, not something you watch). The first obvious place to go is the CDC website. Their data is perhaps the most trustworthy, but also conservative and a few days old. There is also the more accessible Worldometers site, with very up-to-date numbers that may be less reliable than the CDC (though I am not diving into that). Below are a couple of links and graphs from those sites. The bottom line: the number of cases in the US seems to be doubling every four days. That’s a 10X increase every two weeks. Exponentials – yikes. If we don’t flatten this curve, that will mean 400,000 cases in a month, and the entire country in two months. It is time for us to flatten the curve.

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/world-map.html

World map showing countries with COVID-19 cases

(Countries with coronavirus cases shown in green, as of March 14.)

SPIE Advanced Lithography Symposium 2020 – day 4

The final day of the conference!  Zhingang Wang of Hitachi talked about CD-SEM tool matching, describing all of the sources of variation that affect matching.  This year he added a new error source to his list:  detection/image level variation.  The variation of SEM image quality across the SEM image field is something that I have been discussing (related to Fractilia) for the past few years, and I am glad to see Hitachi start talking about it as well.

Jara Garcia Santaclara gets my vote for best paper title of the conference – “One metric to rule them all:  new k4 definition for photoresist characterization”.  I’m a sucker for Lord of the Rings references.  Jara and Bernd Geh have made some good progress on the k4 factor introduced by Bernd last year (essentially trying to create a predictive scaling relationship that is more detailed than Gregg Gallatin’s original RLS formulation).  Their work seems to be converging with my (still unfinished) approach to simple LER modeling that I discussed at the last two EUVL Symposiums.  With some more effort, we all might get these scaling rules to a very useful place, so I hope we continue to work this topic.

There were several useful papers on measuring and modeling secondary electron blur radius in EUV resists, an important but difficult topic.  But most of the Thursday papers were not as on-target to my interests as the earlier days.  I did end the day with a fun paper on “Sub-Wavelength Holographic Lithography” (SWHL) by a Swiss startup of that name.  Holographic lithography is an old approach with many very interesting characteristics (no projection lens, masks that are hard to make but insensitive to defects).  There were other attempts to make this approach work 15 years ago and 25 years ago, but improvements in lasers, mask making, and computational capabilities seem to be enabling a renewed interest.  I’ll be watching Nanotech SWHL to see how they do.

Looking back over the week I have two closing thoughts.  This is, I believe, the first time I have been to SPIE Advanced Lithography without seeing Grant Willson, who retired last year.  I saw him present at my first SPIE in 1985, met him at my second conference in 1986, and have been friends with him ever since.  I’m glad he is enjoying his retirement, but we certainly miss him here.  The week has also seen an escalating concern over the new coronavirus, COVID-19.  Like everyone else I am monitoring developments with morbid fascination, but also to see how it will impact my immediate future.  And it has.  If there is any positive to the spreading fear over the spreading virus, it is that I will soon be traveling far less.  I have started asking customers if we could schedule our meetings, demos, and courses using video conferencing rather than in-person, and they are readily agreeing.  Maybe such accommodations will be a permanent trend, with the significant savings in time and resources that come with less travel (not to mention a better quality of life when I spend more time with my family).  I will look to this thought as a small consolation.

SPIE Advanced Lithography Symposium 2020 – day 3

Ron Schuurhuis of ASML began the day with a review of the improvements they have made to the NXE:3400C, many of them (such as inline tin refill and reduced collector swap times) resulting in fairly significant tool productivity enhancements.  But something else in his presentation has encouraged me to go off on a rant:  calculated throughputs based on unrealistic resist sensitivity assumptions.  In the very early days of EUV, throughput calculations were based on the mythical 5mJ/cm2 (dose-to-size) resist.  After source power increased by something like an order of magnitude, a mythical 10mJ/cm2 resist was introduced for theoretical throughput calculations.  As the source power increased further, ASML grudgingly acknowledged that these unrealistic dose targets would never be met and allowed the theoretical dose for throughput calculations to rise again (to 15 and then 20 mJ/cm2), but always climbing more slowly than source power so that they could still claim a rising throughput.  In the Schuurhuis presentation I saw what appeared to be the next transition, to a 30mJ/cm2 mythical resist.  (As an example, their calculated 170 wafer per hour throughput using a 20 mJ/cm2 resist becomes 135 wph assuming a 30 mJ/cm2 dose-to-size.)  Assuming 30 mJ/cm2 is certainly better than assuming 20, but line/space patterning requires closer to 40 mJ/cm2 at modest pitches (and higher for smaller pitches), and contact holes need over 50mJ/cm2 (to print, for example, 40nmx70nm pitch staggered arrays).  Can we just admit reality for once and start using 40 mJ/cm2 for all future throughput calculations on the 0.33 NA tool?

I was excited by a talk by Rich Wise of Lam Research showing extremely preliminary results for a dry deposited, dry developed metal-organic nanocluster resist.  These early results looked promising.  I always worry that nanocluster resists will not have high enough development contrast (best measured using a focus-exposure process window and mask linearity compared to a standard resist), but I look forward to seeing more from Lam on this material in the future.

Gurpreet Singh of Intel gave a pair of talks on complementing EUV with directed self-assembly (DSA).  (I have to be careful with my spelling – I started to say that DSA was “complimenting” EUV, but in fact the opposite is true).  The first application of DSA was in rectification:  print lousy EUV patterns at a tight pitch (say, 30 nm or 28 nm) and low dose, etch them into an underlayer, then fix the terribly rough features using DSA guided by the underlayer pattern, without pitch division.  This works very well for line/space patterning and could replace an SAQP flow, but of course Intel said nothing about design rule constraints.  Their goal was clear:  improve edge placement error by reducing the pitch walking endemic to SADP and SAQP.  With the low EUV doses possible using this approach, it might even be cost effective.  They used the very mature PS-b-PMMA system since it has the possibility of sufficiently low defectivity for practical manufacturing.  But pushing to smaller pitches (below about 24 nm) will likely require a new material, and he proposed the development of a “modified” PS-b-PMMA system as the best path forward.

From Charlie Liu of IBM I heard my new acronym of the week:  PB&S (print big and shrink).

Hyo Seon Suh of imec updated us on their continuing progress in making DSA practical for high-volume manufacturing (full disclosure – I was a coauthor on this talk).  Through a number of optimizations they were able to shrink the unbiased LER from 3.0 nm to 2.5 nm, while keeping defectivity near the 2/cm2 level.

Customer meetings kept me away from much of the afternoon talks, and as a substitute for the canceled KLA PROLITH party many of us met up in the evening at my new favorite San Jose brewpub, Uproar, where we toasted another successful day advancing lithography.