IMEC AND KLA-Tencor Partner in Sub-65-nm Lithography Process Control Joint Development Project Anticipated to Speed Industry Adoption of Optical CD

Metrology



    SAN JOSE, Calif., Oct. 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- KLA-Tencor
 (Nasdaq:   KLAC) and IMEC, Europe's leading independent nanoelectronics and
 nanotechnology research center based in Belgium, today announced that they
 have entered into a joint-development project (JDP) to accelerate the adoption
 of optical critical dimension (CD) metrology technology for next-generation
 (65-nm and below) semiconductor applications.  The JDP will focus on two key
 areas:  extending the use of optical CD metrology in current applications,
 such as shallow trench isolation (STI) and gate, to the sub-65-nm node; and
 expanding the proliferation of optical CD metrology into new applications,
 such as 3-D contact and via layers.
     KLA-Tencor's SpectraCD 100 system will be the optical CD metrology tool
 used by IMEC for these development efforts.  Formally introduced this past
 February, SpectraCD 100 has already been adopted by leading logic and memory
 manufacturers, as well as lithography tool suppliers, worldwide.
     "Maintaining control over the lithography process continues to remain one
 of the most pressing challenges that chipmakers face as they drive deeper into
 the Nano Realm," stated Dr. Luc Van den hove, vice president of IMEC.
 "Optical CD metrology has demonstrated its viability in 90-nm production for
 controlling critical patterning steps, and we are continuing our very
 effective partnership with KLA-Tencor to further develop this technology due
 to the company's aggressive investment in this technology.  We believe that by
 working together, we can speed the implementation of optical CD metrology as a
 mainstream solution for managing lithography yields at the 65-nm node and
 beyond."
     For advanced lithography processes, traditional CD linewidth measurements
 are no longer enough to provide all the information that chipmakers need to
 accurately predict and maximize yield and transistor performance.  Complete
 feature profile information is now required, including CD, sidewall angle,
 height and depth.  Optical CD metrology is ideally suited to address this need
 due to its full 3-D profile measurement capability, and it is increasingly
 being adopted as an in-line process monitor for 90-nm IC production owing to
 its high throughput and ability to collect measurement data non-destructively
 compared to other metrology techniques.  However, the transition to 65-nm and
 smaller design rules creates an entirely new set of challenges for lithography
 process control.  Ultra-high numerical aperture (NA) lithography tools and
 immersion lithography, both of which are expected to be introduced in
 production at the 65-nm node and below, will further reduce the size of
 lithography process windows-accelerating the need for tighter lithography
 control in production.
     "Optical CD metrology plays an increasingly critical role in the IC fab in
 ensuring that patterning processes are controlled during production, and
 KLA-Tencor is committed to further enhancing the applications for this
 technology so that our customers can continue to meet their roadmap
 requirements," stated David Fisher, optical CD business unit manager at
 KLA-Tencor.  "We believe that the combination of IMEC's world-leading
 processing capabilities with our optical CD metrology expertise will yield new
 insights into advanced lithography that will help ease our customers'
 transition to future technology nodes.  IMEC is a leading pioneer in the
 development of advanced semiconductor processes, and we're honored to be
 chosen by them for this JDP in advanced lithography control."
     SpectraCD 100 utilizes KLA-Tencor's sixth-generation broadband
 spectroscopic ellipsometry technology with reflective optics.  The tool
 provides industry-leading sensitivity for detecting key process issues, such
 as resist footers in gate structures.  Its unique 3-D modeling capability
 enables contact hole metrology, which is especially crucial for production
 monitoring, since contact hole sizes that are significantly reduced or closed
 at the bottom of front-end-of-line (FEOL) structures can result in significant
 yield loss.  The 3-D modeling capability also provides more accurate
 information on sidewall angle and height, which enables users to achieve
 tighter process control and better prediction of electrical performance.
 
     About IMEC:  IMEC is a world leading independent research center in
 nanoelectronics and nanotechnology.  Its research focuses on the
 next-generation of chips and systems, and on the enabling technologies for
 ambient intelligence.  IMEC's research bridges the gap between fundamental
 research at universities and technology development in industry.  Its unique
 balance of processing and system know-how, intellectual property portfolio,
 state-of-the-art infrastructure and a strong network of companies,
 universities and research institutes worldwide, positions IMEC as a key
 partner with which to develop and improve technologies for future systems.
 IMEC is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and has representatives in the U.S.,
 China and Japan.  Its staff of more than 1,300 people includes over
 380 industrial residents and guest researchers.  In 2003, its revenues were
 EUR 145 million.  Further information on IMEC can be found at www.imec.be
 
     About KLA-Tencor:  KLA-Tencor is the world leader in yield management and
 process control solutions for semiconductor manufacturing and related
 industries.  Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., with operations around the
 world, KLA-Tencor ranked #6 on S&P's 2002 index of the top 500 companies in
 the U.S.  KLA-Tencor is traded on the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol
 KLAC.  Additional information about the company is available on the Internet
 at http://www.kla-tencor.com .
 
 

SOURCE KLA-Tencor

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