Extreme ultraviolet lithography
Extreme ultraviolet lithography (also known as EUV or EUVL) is a next-generation lithography technology using an extreme ultraviolet (EUV) wavelength, currently expected to be 13.5 nm. EUV is currently being developed for high volume use by 2020.
- 1 Tool
- 2 Light source
- 3 EUV-specific optical issues
- 4 Enhancements for EUV Patterning
- 5 Photoresist exposure
- 6 Contamination effects
- 7 EUV Mask Defects
- 8 Throughput-scaling limits
- 9 Deployment and productivity
- 10 EUV and multiple patterning
- 11 Single patterning extension: Anamorphic High-NA
- 12 Beyond EUV wavelength
- 13 References
- 14 Further reading
- 15 Related links
The tool consists of a laser-driven Sn plasma light source, reflective optics comprising multilayer mirrors, contained within a hydrogen gas ambient. The hydrogen is used for keeping the EUV collector mirror in the source free of Sn deposition.
EUVL is a significant departure from the deep ultraviolet lithography standard. All matter absorbs EUV radiation. Hence, EUV lithography requires a vacuum. All optical elements, including the photomask, must use defect-free Mo/Si multilayers that act to reflect light by means of interlayer interference; any one of these mirrors absorb around 30% of the incident light.
Current EUVL systems contain at least two condenser multilayer mirrors, six projection multilayer mirrors and a multilayer object (mask). Since the optics already absorbs 96% of the EUV light, the ideal EUV source will need to be much brighter than its predecessors. EUV source development has focused on plasmas generated by laser or discharge pulses. The mirror responsible for collecting the light is directly exposed to the plasma and is therefore vulnerable to damage from high-energy ions and other debris.
|Utility||200 W output EUV||90 W output ArF immersion double patterning|
|Electrical power (kW)||532||49|
|Cooling water flow (L/min)||1600||75|
Source: Gigaphoton, Sematech Symposium Japan, September 15, 2010
The required utility resources are significantly larger for EUV compared to 193 nm immersion, even with two exposures using the latter. Hynix reported at the 2009 EUV Symposium that the wall plug efficiency was ~0.02% for EUV, i.e., to get 200 W at intermediate focus for 100 WPH, one would require 1 MW of input power, compared to 165 kW for an ArF immersion scanner, and that even at the same throughput, the footprint of the EUV scanner was ~3x the footprint of an ArF immersion scanner, resulting in productivity loss. Additionally, to confine ion debris, a superconducting magnet may be required.
A typical EUV tool weighs 180 tons.
Neutral atoms or condensed matter cannot emit EUV radiation. Ionization must precede EUV emission in matter. The thermal production of multicharged positive ions is only possible in a hot dense plasma, which itself strongly absorbs EUV. As of 2016, the established EUV light source is a laser-pulsed Sn plasma. The ions absorb the EUV light they emit, and are easily neutralized by electrons in the plasma to lower charge states which produce light mainly at other, unusable wavelengths, which results in a much reduced efficiency of light generation for lithography at higher plasma power density.
While state-of-the-art 193 nm ArF excimer lasers offer intensities of 200 W/cm2, lasers for producing EUV-generating plasmas need to be much more intense, on the order of 1011 W/cm2. A state-of-the-art ArF immersion lithography 120 W light source requires no more than 40 kW while EUV sources are targeted to exceed 40 kW.
The EUV collector has a lifetime on the order of months, over which transmission steadily decreases, roughly 10% in a little over a month. This could be due to the accumulating Sn residue mentioned above which is not completely cleaned off. On the other hand, conventional immersion lithography tools for double patterning provide consistent output for up to a year.
EUV-specific optical issues
A fundamental aspect of EUVL tools, resulting from the use of reflective optics, is the off-axis illumination (at an angle of 6 degrees, in different direction at different positions within the illumination slit) on a multilayer mask. This leads to shadowing effects resulting in asymmetry in the diffraction pattern that degrade pattern fidelity in various ways as described below.
Most fundamentally, the behavior of light rays within the plane of reflection (affecting horizontal lines) is different from the behavior of light rays out of the plane of reflection (affecting vertical lines). Most conspicuously, identically sized horizontal and vertical lines on the EUV mask are printed at different sizes on the wafer.
Asymmetries in sets of parallel lines
The combination of the off-axis asymmetry and the mask shadowing effect leads to a fundamental inability of two identical features even in close proximity to be in focus simultaneously. One of EUVL's key issues is the asymmetry between the top and bottom line of a pair of horizontal lines (the so-called "two-bar"). Some ways to partly compensate are the use of assist features as well as asymmetric illumination.
An extension of the two-bar case to a grating consisting of many horizontal lines shows similar sensitivity to defocus.
Pattern shift from defocus (non-telecentricity)
The use of reflection causes wafer exposure position to be extremely sensitive to the reticle flatness and the reticle clamp. Reticle clamp cleanliness is therefore required to be maintained. Small (mrad-scale) deviations in mask flatness in the local slope, coupled with wafer defocus. More significantly, mask defocus has been found to result in large overlay errors. Hence, features at different locations will shift differently due to different deviations from flatness.
The off-axis illumination of the reticle is also the cause of non-telecentricity in wafer defocus, which consumes most of the overlay budget of the NXE:3300 EUV scanner even for design rules as loose as 100 nm pitch.
Line tip effects
A key challenge for EUV is the counter-scaling behavior of the tip-to-tip (T2T) distance as half-pitch (hp) is scaled down. This is due to lower image contrast for the binary masks used in EUV lithography, which is not encountered with the use of phase shift masks in immersion lithography. For T2T patterns, the nonzero diffraction orders are smaller than the zero orders, and this is worse for binary masks. The use of phase-shift masks in EUV lithography has been studied but encounters difficulties from phase control in thin layers as well as the bandwidth of the EUV light itself.
Slit position dependence
The direction of illumination is also highly dependent on slit position. Hence identical die patterns on different halves of the slit would get different OPC. This renders them uninspectable by die-to-die comparison, as they are no longer truly identical dies.
The slit position dependence is particularly difficult for the tilted patterns encountered in DRAM. Besides the more complicated effects due to shadowing and pupil rotation, tilted edges are converted to stair shape, which may be distorted by OPC.
Enhancements for EUV Patterning
Assist features are often used to help balance asymmetry from non-telecentricity at different slit positions, due to different illumination angles, starting at the 7 nm node. However, the asymmetry is reduced but not completely eliminated, since the assist features mainly enhance the highest spatial frequencies, whereas intermediate spatial frequencies, which also affect feature focus and position, are not much affected. The coupling between the primary image and the self images is too strong for the asymmetry to be completely eliminated by assist features; only asymmetric illumination can achieve this. Assist features may also get in the way of access to power/ground rails. Power rails are expected to be wider, which also limits the effectiveness of using assist features, by constraining the local pitch. Local pitches between 1x and 2x the minimum pitch forbid assist feature placement, as there is simply no room to preserve the local pitch symmetry. In fact, for the application to the two-bar asymmetry case, the optimum assist feature placement may be less than or exceed the two-bar pitch. Depending on the parameter to be optimized (process window area, depth of focus, exposure latitude), the optimum assist feature configuration can be very different, e.g., pitch between assist feature and bar being different from two-bar pitch, symmetric or asymmetric, etc..
At pitches smaller than 58 nm, there is a tradeoff between depth of focus enhancement and contrast loss by assist feature placement.
An additional concern comes from shot noise, due to fewer photons defining smaller features (see discussion below).
It is now known that the underlying mechanism for the asymmetry is different shadowing from different angles of incidence. Hence, reducing absorber thickness would be the most direct way to resolve the issue.
Due to the effects of non-telecentricity, standard illumination pupil shapes, such as disc or annular, are not sufficient to be used for feature sizes of ~20 nm or below (10 nm node and beyond). Instead certain parts of the pupil (often over 50%) must be asymmetrically excluded. The parts to be excluded depend on the pattern. In particular, the densest allowed lines need to be aligned along one direction and prefer a dipole shape. For this situation, double exposure lithography would be required for 2D patterns, due to the presence of both X- and Y-oriented patterns, each requiring its own 1D pattern mask and dipole orientation. There may be 200–400 illuminating points, each contributing its weight of the dose to balance the overall image through focus. Thus the shot noise effect (to be discussed later) critically affects the image position through focus, in a large population of features.
Double or multiple patterning would also be required if a pattern consists of sub-patterns which require significantly different optimized illuminations, due to different pitches, orientations, shapes, and sizes.
Optimum illumination vs. Pitch
The optimum illumination is a strong function of pitch in the range between 32 nm and 48 nm, which is where most of the work on EUV application has been focused. For sufficiently large pitches (44 nm and over), 3-beam imaging can be included to improve contrast, so that the illumination pupil shape is preferably conventional, which is a circular disc, possibly including a central obscuration to provide an annular appearance. Below 44 nm pitch, the optimum shape is no longer conventional but more shaped like the "quasar" source, i.e., an arc within each quadrant of the pupil. Below 41 nm pitch (k1=0.5), including 3-beam imaging is no longer possible. For pitches of 32 nm and below, the optimum illumination becomes more dipole like, i.e., concentrated toward the top and bottom or the left and right ends of the pupil. When source-mask optimization is performed, the resulting shape will resemble the closest of the standard set (conventional, quasar, dipole).
|44 nm||Conventional or Quasar|
The pitch between gates aligned along one direction (and their connecting metal lines) is generally 25-50% larger than the minimum pitch between metal lines aligned along the orthogonal direction, which entails different optimum illuminations, prohibiting a single EUV exposure.
When an EUV photon is absorbed, photoelectrons and secondary electrons are generated by ionization, much like what happens when X-rays or electron beams are absorbed by matter. 10 mJ/cm2 EUV photon dose results in the generation of 109 uC/cm2 dose of photoelectrons. The more highly absorbing resist removes more light in the top of the resist, leaving less for the bottom of the resist. The larger absorption leads to larger, more significant differences between the absorbed doses at the top and the bottom of the resist.
|resist depth||absorption (1/um)||absorption (5/um)||absorption (20/um)|
|Top 10 nm||1%||5%||18%|
|10-20 nm deep||1%||4.5%||15%|
|20-30 nm deep||1%||4.5%||12%|
|30-40 nm deep||1%||4%||10%|
|40-50 nm deep||1%||4%||8%|
In other words, the less absorbing the resist, the more vertically uniform the absorption. Conventionally, photoresists are made as transparent as possible to strive for this vertical uniformity, which enables straighter resist profiles. On the other hand, for EUV, this conflicts with the goal of increasing absorption for more sensitivity at current EUV power levels. Shot noise is another concern, to be explained further below.
Impact of photoelectron and secondary electron travel on resolution
A study by the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) presented at the 2013 EUVL Workshop indicated that, as a measure of EUV photoelectron and secondary electron blur, 50–100 eV electrons easily penetrated beyond 15 nm of resist thickness (PMMA or commercial resist), indicating more than 30 nm range of resist affected centered on the EUV point of absorption, for doses exceeding 200–300 uC/cm2. This can be compared with the image contrast degradation reported for sub-40 nm pitches later in 2015.
The process of electron penetration through a resist is essentially a stochastic process; there is a finite probability that resist exposure by released electrons can occur quite far from the point of photon absorption. Increasing the dose increases the number of far-reaching electrons, resulting in more extended resist loss. A leading EUV chemically amplified resist exposed to 80 eV electrons at a dose up to 80 uc/cm2 showed up to 7.5 nm resist thickness loss. For an open-source resist exposed near 200 uC/cm2 by 80 eV electrons, the resist thickness lost after post-exposure bake and development was around 13 nm, while doubling the dose resulted in increasing the loss to 15 nm. On the other hand, for doses >500 uc/cm2, the resist begins to thicken due to crosslinking.
It should be noted that EUV resists are also exposable by wavelengths longer than EUV, particular VUV and DUV wavelengths in the 150–250 nm range.
Due to the high efficiency of absorption of EUV by photoresists, heating and outgassing become primary concerns. Organic photoresists outgas hydrocarbons while metal oxide photoresists outgas water and oxygen and metal (in a hydrogen ambient); the last is uncleanable. The carbon contamination is known to affect multilayer reflectivity while the oxygen is particularly harmful for the ruthenium capping layers on the EUV multilayer optics.
One well-known issue is contamination deposition on the resist from ambient or outgassed hydrocarbons, which results from EUV- or electron-driven reactions. Also, hydrogen gas in the tool chambers interacts with tin in the light source or resist to form SnH4 which reaches the coatings of the EUV optical surfaces, leaving Sn which is subsequently unremovable. Hydrogen also reacts with metal-containing compounds to reduce them to metal, and/or diffuses through to the multilayer, eventually causing blistering. Hydrogen also reacts with resists to etch or decompose them.
To help mitigate the above effects, the latest EUV tool introduced in 2017, the NXE:3400B, features a membrane that separates the wafer from the projection optics of the tool, protecting the latter from outgassing from the resist on the wafer. The membrane contains layers which absorb DUV and IR radiation, and transmits 85-90% of the incident EUV radiation. There is of course, accumulated contamination from wafer outgassing as well as particles in general (although the latter are out of focus, they may still obstruct light).
EUV Mask Defects
Reducing defects on extreme ultraviolet (EUV) masks is currently one of the most critical issues to be addressed for commercialization of EUV lithography. Defects can be buried underneath or within the multilayer stack or be on top of the multilayer stack. Mesas or protrusions form on the sputtering targets used for multilayer deposition, which may fall off as particles during the multilayer deposition. In fact, defects of atomic scale height (0.3–0.5 nm) with 100 nm FWHM can still be printable by exhibiting 10% CD impact. IBM and Toppan reported at Photomask Japan 2015 that smaller defects, e.g., 50 nm size, can have 10% CD impact even with 0.6 nm height, yet remain undetectable.
Furthermore, the edge of a phase defect will further reduce reflectivity by more than 10% if its deviation from flatness exceeds 3 degrees, due to the deviation from the target angle of incidence of 84 degrees with respect to the surface. Even if the defect height is shallow, the edge still deforms the overlying multilayer, producing an extended region where the multilayer is sloped. The more abrupt the deformation, the narrower the defect edge extension, the greater the loss in reflectivity.
EUV mask defect repair is also more complicated due to the across-slit illumination variation mentioned above. Due to the varying shadowing sensitivity across the slit, the repair deposition height must be controlled very carefully, being different at different positions across the EUV mask illumination slit.
Multiple EUV pulses at less than 10 mJ/cm2 could accumulate damage to a Ru-capped Mo/Si multilayer mirror optic element. The angle of incidence was 16° or 0.28 rads, which is within the range of angles for a 0.33 NA optical system.
Production EUV tools need a pellicle to protect the mask from contamination. Currently, the pellicle is not yet guaranteed to withstand 250 W power necessary for high volume manufacturing; the specification is 40 W.
Pellicles are normally expected to protect the mask from particles during transport, entry into or exit from the exposure chamber, as well as the exposure itself. Without pellicles, particle adders would reduce yield, which has not been an issue for conventional optical lithography with 193 nm light and pellicles. However, for EUV, the feasibility of pellicle use is severely challenged, due to the required thinness of the shielding films to prevent excessive EUV absorption. Particle contamination would be prohibitive if pellicles were not stable above 200 W, i.e., the targeted power for manufacturing.
Heating of the EUV mask pellicle (film temperature up to 750 K for 80 W incident power) is a significant concern, due to the resulting deformation and transmission decrease. ASML developed a 70 nm thick polysilicon pellicle membrane, which allows EUV transmission of 82%; however, less than half of the membranes survived expected EUV power levels. SiNx pellicle membranes also failed at 82 W equivalent EUV source power levels. Alternative materials need to allow sufficient transmission as well as maintain mechanical and thermal stability. However, graphite, graphene or other carbon nanomaterials (nanosheets, nanotubes) are damaged by EUV due to the release of electrons and also too easily etched in the hydrogen cleaning plasma expected to be deployed in EUV scanners. Hydrogen plasmas can also etch silicon as well. A coating helps improve hydrogen resistance, but this reduces transmission and/or emissivity, and may also affect mechanical stability (e.g., bulging). The current lack of any suitable pellicle material, aggravated by the use of hydrogen plasma cleaning in the EUV scanner, presents an obstacle to volume production.
The resolution of EUV lithography for the future faces challenges in maintaining throughput, i.e., how many wafers are processed by an EUV tool per day. These challenges arise from smaller fields, additional mirrors, and shot noise. In order to maintain throughput, the power at intermediate focus (IF) must be continually increased.
Preparation of an anamorphic lens with an NA between 0.5 and 0.6 is underway as of 2016. The demagnification will be 8X in one dimension and 4X in the other, and the angle of reflection will increase.
Higher demagnification will increase the mask size or reduce the size of the printed field. Reduced field size would divide full-size chip patterns (normally taking up 26 mm × 33 mm) among two or more conventional 6-inch EUV masks. Large (approaching or exceeding 500 mm2) chips, typically used for GPUs or servers, would have to be stitched together from two or more sub-patterns from different masks. Without field stitching, die size would be limited. With field stitching, features that cross field boundaries would have alignment errors, and the extra time required to change masks would reduce the throughput of the EUV system.
Shot noise: the statistical resolution limit
With the natural Poisson distribution due to the random arrival times of the photons, there is an expected natural dose (photon number) variation of at least several percent 3 sigma, making the exposure process susceptible to stochastic variations. The dose variation leads to a variation of the feature edge position, effectively becoming a blur component. Unlike the hard resolution limit imposed by diffraction, shot noise imposes a softer limit, with the main guideline being the ITRS line width roughness (LWR) spec of 8% (3s) of linewidth. Increasing the dose will reduce the shot noise, but this also requires higher source power.
A 10 nm wide, 10 nm long assist feature region, at a target non-printing dose of 15 mJ/cm2, with 10% absorption, is defined by just over 100 photons, which leads to a 6s noise of 59%, corresponding to a stochastic dose range of 6 to 24 mJ/cm2, which could affect the printability.
A 2017 study by Intel showed that for semi-isolated vias (whose Airy disk can be approximated by a Gaussian), the sensitivity of CD to dose was particularly strong, strong enough that a reduction of dose could nonlinearly lead to failure to print the via.
Minimum dose to restrain shot noise for shrinking areas:
|length||edge width||area||dose for 3s=7% noise (1800 absorbed EUV photons, 33% absorption)|
|40 nm||4 nm||160 nm2||50 mJ/cm2|
|25 nm||4 nm||100 nm2||78 mJ/cm2|
|25 nm||2 nm||50 nm2||159 mJ/cm2|
|20 nm||2 nm||40 nm2||198 mJ/cm2|
|15 nm||2 nm||30 nm2||264 mJ/cm2|
The two issues of shot noise and EUV-released electrons point out two constraining factors: 1) keeping dose high enough to reduce shot noise to tolerable levels, but also 2) avoiding too high a dose due to the increased contribution of EUV-released photoelectrons and secondary electrons to the resist exposure process, increasing the edge blur and thereby limiting the resolution. Aside from the resolution impact, higher dose also increases outgassing and limits throughput, and crosslinking occurs at very high dose levels. For chemically amplified resists, higher dose exposure also increases line edge roughness due to acid generator decomposition.
As mentioned earlier, a more absorbing resist actually leads to less vertical dose uniformity. This also means shot noise is worse toward the bottom of a highly absorbing EUV resist layer.
Even with higher absorption, EUV has a larger shot noise concern than the ArF (193 nm) wavelength, mainly because it is applied to smaller dimensions and current dose targets are lower due to currently available source power levels.
|Wavelength||Dose||Absorption||Photons/nm2||CD||Edge width (20% of CD)||N_photon||6s/avg|
|ArF||30 mJ/cm2||1%||2.9||40 nm||8 nm||934||20%|
|EUV||20 mJ/cm2||15% (between 10 and 20 nm deep)||2.0||20 nm||4 nm||163||47%|
|Dose-compensated EUV||114 mJ/cm2||15% (between 10 and 20 nm deep)||12||20 nm||4 nm||939||20%|
As can be seen above, at sufficient dose levels, the EUV application can achieve the same photon noise levels as ArF.
Deployment and productivity
Current throughput at customer site is 1,200 wafers per day with 80% availability, while conventional tools produce 5,000 wafers per day with 95% availability. As of 2017, the cost of a 7 nm process with 3 metal layers patterned by single EUV exposure is still 20% higher than the current 10 nm non-EUV multipatterned process. Hence, multiple patterning with immersion lithography has been deployed for volume manufacturing, while deployment of EUV is expected in 2018–2020.
The deployment of EUVL for volume manufacturing has been delayed for a decade, though the forecasts for deployment had timelines of 2–5 years. Deployment was targeted in 2007 (5 years after the forecast was made in 2002), in 2009 (5 years after the forecast), in 2012–2013 (3–4 years), in 2013–2015 (2–4 years), in 2016–2017 (2–3 years), and in 2018–2020 (2–4 years after the forecasts). However, deployment could be delayed further.
Shipments of the NXE:3350 system began at the end of 2015, with claimed throughput of 1,250 wafers/day or 65 wafers per hour (WPH) assuming 80% uptime. By comparison, the 300-unit installed base of NXT 193-nm immersion systems had 96% availability and 275 WPH in 2015.
|Year||WPH||forecast WPH||Availability||forecast Avail.|
Twenty EUV units were shipped in 2010–2016, short of the number that would be required for volume manufacturing. By comparison, ASML shipped over 60 NXT 193-nm immersion systems in 2016, and forecasts that 48 EUV units will be shipped in 2019. Six NXE:3100 units were shipped in 2010–2011. Eight NXE:3300B units were shipped in 2013Q3–2015Q1, fewer than the forecast 11 units. Two NXE:3350B units were shipped in late 2015, compared to a forecast six units. Four units were shipped in 2016, compared to a forecast six or seven units from the start of the year.
As of 2016, 12 units were forecast to ship in 2017, and 24 units in 2018. However, the shipment forecast for 2017 was halved at the beginning of the year to six or seven units. The NXE:3350B is planned to be discontinued by 2017, to be replaced by the NXE:3400B. At the time of shipping of the first NXE:3400B, eight NXE:3300B and six NXE:3350B systems were up and working in the field.
Uptime and throughput
To maintain a given level of throughput, power must be proportional to dose. For example, if 250 W supports 125 WPH at 20 mJ/cm2, then for a dose of 40 mJ/cm2 that would compensate for shot noise in smaller features the power should increase to 500 W to maintain the 125 WPH.
|80W: 75%-85% (best 4-wk average)||80W: 620-1240||80W: 32-65 WPH (80% uptime, best full week); 125W: 85 WPH||20 mJ/cm2|
Source: ASML, EUVL Workshop 2016, June 16, 2016 (http://www.euvlitho.com/2016/P2.pdf)
The NXE:3400B is projected to deliver 125 WPH at 20 mJ/cm2 with >200 W source power; stable operation at >200 W was confirmed for >1 hour.
EUV and multiple patterning
In Intel's complementary lithography scheme at 20 nm half-pitch, EUV would be used only in a second line-cutting exposure after a first 193 nm line-printing exposure.
Multiple EUV exposures would also be expected where two or mask patterns, e.g., different pitches or widths, must use different optimized source pupil shapes.
Single patterning extension: Anamorphic High-NA
A return to extended generations of single exposure patterning would be possible with higher numerical aperture (NA) tools. An NA of 0.45 using 13.5 nm wavelength could require retuning of a few percent. Increasing demagnification could avoid this retuning, but the reduced field size severely affects large patterns (one die per 26 mm × 33 mm field) such as the many-core multi-billion transistor 14 nm Xeon chips. by requiring field stitching.
In 2015, ASML disclosed details of its anamorphic next-generation EUV (13.5 nm wavelength) scanner, with an NA of 0.55. The demagnification is increased from 4x to 8x only in one direction (in the plane of incidence).  However, the 0.55 NA has a much smaller depth of focus than immersion lithography. Also, an anamorphic 0.52 NA tool has been found to exhibit too much CD and placement variability for 5 nm node single exposure and multi-patterning cutting.
|wavelength||refractive index||NA||DOF (normalized)|
The first high-NA tools are expected by 2020 at earliest.
Beyond EUV wavelength
A much shorter wavelength (~6.7 nm) would be beyond EUV, and is often referred to as BEUV (Beyond Extreme UltraViolet). A shorter wavelength would have worse shot noise effects without ensuring sufficient dose.
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ASML is developing an anamorphic lens for EUV. The two-axis EUV lens would support 8x magnification in the scan mode and 4x in the other direction. It would support 0.5 to 0.6 NAs. … The EUV scanner could take a throughput hit. It would expose the wafer at only half the field size, as opposed to full field sizes with today’s EUV scanners.
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