SAN JOSE, Calif., Oct. 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- In a move designed to help IC manufacturers realize greater 300-mm yield entitlement, KLA-Tencor (Nasdaq: KLAC) today unveiled its new VisEdge CV300 edge-inspection system. Representing the semiconductor industry's first inspection solution capable of meeting the full range of wafer-edge inspection requirements in a production environment, the VisEdge CV300 leverages proven Optical Surface Analyzer (OSA) technology from KLA-Tencor's acquisition of Candela Instruments. With many advanced IC manufacturers facing an average of 10 to 50 percent greater yield loss at the wafer's edge relative to their best yielding region, a comprehensive inspection strategy that includes advanced edge inspection is critical. Built on a highly extendible platform, the tool's combination of unique optics design and advanced defect classification capabilities allows IC manufacturers to overcome the limitations of existing edge-inspection techniques and enable broader capture and better distinction of edge defectivity to increase yield. With OSA technology at its heart, the VisEdge CV300 offers the unique advantage of complete wafer-edge scanning and capture of both macro- and micro-based defects with high sensitivity. Unlike traditional edge-inspection systems, the VisEdge CV300's simultaneous multi-channel signal acquisition technology combines four detection methods (scatterometry, reflectometry, phase shift and optical beam deflection) to achieve greater accuracy and purity in capturing defect sources that cause a variety of problems, including small particles, stains and film delamination, while eliminating the need for repeat scans. Advanced rules-based defect classification software with robust signal enhancement and smart filtering routines eliminates edge background noise -- a problem worsened by the severe topography at the wafer's edge that impairs the detection capabilities of other inspection techniques -- to highlight defects of interest and enable fast identification of defect types. KLA-Tencor's OSA inspection technology has been proven in production for advanced inspection applications, with more than 300 installations worldwide, and is highly extendible to meet future inspection requirements. Historically, wafer-edge defectivity has been primarily physical in nature, such as chips or cracks. With the transition to 300-mm production and sub-90-nm design rules, demanding process integration challenges due to increased device and stack complexity have given rise to a new class of edge-related defects. For example, residue from chemical mechanical planarization (CMP) or etch processes can create interfacial stresses or poor adhesions of film layers, which in turn lead to blister defects or peeling. These defects can then migrate onto patterned areas during subsequent processing and cause significant yield losses or transfer to process tools resulting in long tool downtimes. The use of wet chemistries in advanced wafer processing, such as in immersion lithography, can compound this problem. "In dry lithography, process control on the wafer's edge is well understood. This is not the case with immersion lithography, where the wafer edge temporarily comes in contact with water from the immersion hood, which can cause particles to move back and forth between the edge area and the scanner," stated Kurt Ronse, director of lithography at IMEC, Europe's leading independent nanoelectronics and nanotechnology research center. "Having the ability to inspect the full wafer edge -- top, side and bottom -- and not just the flat top of the edge is essential to the development and maturation of immersion lithography. Until today, however, the lack of a comprehensive and robust edge-inspection solution has made it difficult to detect and control defects on the non-flat part of the wafer's edge. We look forward to working with KLA-Tencor in addressing this critical need." "Working in close collaboration with our customers to identify yield roadblocks on the horizon, it quickly became clear to us that wafer-edge yield issues are a very serious and growing problem with no adequate inspection solution available," stated Jeff Donnelly, vice president and general manager of the Growth and Emerging Markets Division at KLA-Tencor. "To fulfill this critical need, we developed the VisEdge CV300. Already, this leading-edge system has demonstrated excellent defect source detection and classification at multiple customer sites involved in beta evaluations, and we believe it will play a critical role in enabling our customers' production success with their next-generation processes." KLA-Tencor will begin shipping the VisEdge CV300 to customers in the first calendar quarter of 2007. 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., the company has sales and service offices around the world. An S&P 500 company, 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 .