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ASML’s multi-e-beam metrology tool delayed

Paul van Gerven
Leestijd: 3 minuten

After a complication in IP sharing, ASML was forced to start over developing a multi-beam e-beam metrology tool. As a result, the launch of the system was delayed by a year.

When ASML acquired US-Taiwanese metrology specialist Hermes Microvision (HMI) in 2016, the Veldhoven company had a clear vision for its e-beam inspection tools: integration in the holistic lithography suite. This assortment of computational and metrology techniques in and around ASML’s scanners helps to make sure that chip patterns are printed correctly on the wafer. Over the past few years, the additional control has become a must-have in chip manufacturing at the leading edge.

The addition of e-beam to the exclusively optical inspection methods in ASML’s suite makes sense. Much like lithography is limited by wavelength in what size features it can print, the minimum detectable defect size is capped for optical metrology. At the same time, as chip features get downscaled, the margins of error shrink and increasingly small defects can ruin entire chips. So helping chipmakers to find and analyze them thus presented ASML with a nice revenue-increasing opportunity. Electrons can help do that because it’s easier to produce low-wavelength electrons than photons.

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