(Nanowerk News) Nanometrics Incorporated, a leading supplier of advanced process control systems and solutions, today announced a significant milestone marking the adoption of its optical critical dimension (OCD) technology. More than 1,000 "recipes," algorithms to analyze and model critical structures, are now in production at semiconductor and data storage manufacturers around the world.
OCD technology allows manufacturers to make non-destructive measurements of film thickness, as well as the width, height, length, depth and pitch of structural features on both the surface of a layer and in previous process layers below the surface. The flexibility of OCD tools to provide all of these measurements, often simultaneously, has created a commanding position for the technology in process control metrology. Demand for OCD technology has increased as manufacturers reduce devices to smaller and smaller geometries, while adding many new process layers and steps at the same time.
"As manufacturers are challenged to scale down devices, the tolerance for variation is reduced," said Nagesh Avadhany, vice president of Global Applications at Nanometrics. "This drives the need to make additional measurements to monitor and control the process at every step. As a result, process control measurements are increasing with the advancement of these devices." In fact, over the past two years, the number of recipes for semiconductor chips in manufacturing at 2X nm and 3X nm nodes has grown at twice the rate of other technology nodes.
The advent of three-dimensional transistors is also a key driver contributing to the rapid adoption of OCD technology. In the 3D transistor, new vertical components are necessary to allow for both smaller architectures and for better performance. "With 3D transistors, you are no longer just measuring a lateral width or film thickness, you are measuring a height, pitch and undercut," said Avadhany. "Other technologies are unable to capture the richness of data with the speed and precision required to measure these devices."
"As traditional metrology tools reach their technological limits, OCD is displacing them. OCD is a disruptive technology, and our systems are quickly becoming the most widely-deployed, in-line production metrology tools in the semiconductor industry," said Dr. Timothy J. Stultz, president and chief executive officer. "By providing a solution that addresses the challenges of three-dimensional metrology at smaller nodes while speeding time to results, we enable our customers to efficiently accelerate their technology development and product roadmaps."
Nanometrics is a leading provider of advanced, high-performance process control metrology and inspection systems used primarily in the fabrication of semiconductors, high-brightness LEDs, data storage devices and solar photovoltaics. Nanometrics' automated and integrated metrology and inspection systems provide for control of critical dimensions, device structures, overlay registration, topography, thin film properties, including film thickness as well as optical, electrical and material properties. The company's process control solutions are deployed throughout the fabrication process, from front-end-of-line substrate manufacturing, to high-volume production of semiconductors and other devices, to advanced wafer-scale packaging applications. Nanometrics' systems enable device manufacturers to improve yields, increase productivity and lower their manufacturing costs. The company maintains its headquarters in Milpitas, California, with sales and service offices worldwide.