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New approach to resolution limit and advanced image formation techniques in optical lithography

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4 Author(s)

Practical resolution, the minimum feature size with a depth of focus (DOF) required for LSI fabrication process, is analyzed. Dependence of practical resolution on various factors, such as optical system parameters (exposure wavelength λ, and numerical aperture NA), resist processes, and required DOF, is investigated. It is shown that practical resolution in the sub-halfmicrometer region is not improved, and may even be degraded, with increasing NA. Furthermore, resolution improvement by increasing NA becomes less effective as λ becomes shorter. This means that the high-resolution capability of high-NA/short-wavelength optics cannot be utilized to create fine-pattern LSIs. In order to overcome this limitation, the effectiveness of advanced image formation techniques, the phase-shifting method and the FLEX method, in practical resolution enhancement is investigated. It is experimentally verified, using a phase-shifting mask and the excimer laser stepper, that a pattern feature size less than 0.2 μm can be clearly delineated with sufficient focus latitude. These advanced techniques make it possible to overcome the resolution limitation of conventional optical lithography

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Electron Devices, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:38 ,  Issue: 1 )