KLA-Tencor Introduces New Pattern Modeling Capabilities To Accelerate Advanced Lithography Process Development
Company's industry-leading PROLITH lithography simulation software now includes etch modeling and analysis

SAN JOSE, Calif., Feb. 21, 2002 - KLA-Tencor Corp. (NASDAQ: KLAC) today announced that its industry-leading PROLITH lithography simulation and modeling software now includes an etch modeling and analysis module to enable customers to achieve greater control over the entire pattern transfer process. This new module accomplishes this by providing better awareness and control of the impact of lithographic changes on the quality of integrated circuit (IC) patterns etched into the semiconductor wafer. As a result, PROLITH customers can accelerate the development of their advanced lithography processes, as well as the adoption of new materials, such as 193-nm photoresists, needed to produce today's leading-edge ICs.

Traditional lithography simulations model the processes involved in reproducing the original IC design as a photoresist pattern on the wafer so that any critical dimension (CD) errors likely to arise during patterning can be identified. These simulations provide only part of the picture, however, since the quality of the pattern after it has been etched into the silicon substrate ultimately determines device performance. Because the pattern cannot be changed once it has been etched into silicon, all CD errors must be identified and corrected prior to etch-any CD errors remaining after etch can cause catastrophic yield losses in the lithography cell or simply render the IC design unmanufacturable.

KLA-Tencor's PROLITH software addresses this need by enabling users to determine the impact of the resist pattern on the quality of the final etched pattern-before committing product wafers to the etch process. This allows chip manufacturers to validate and rework their lithography processes to ensure successful production without sacrificing product wafers.

The new etch software module enables PROLITH to accurately predict the etch process for complex film stacks using one or more etch stages. The etch simulations include real-world etch effects such as undercutting, shadowing and tapering, all of which affect the performance of after-etch CDs. The PROLITH etch module is also easy to use since it requires that customers input only a few easily calibrated variables to achieve highly accurate simulations. With the ability to take the etch process into account, lithography engineers can better understand how their process choices affect after-etch CDs, allowing them to verify the production worthiness of their lithography process. Etch engineers can also use PROLITH's new capabilities, both to optimize their etch processes to meet lithography specifications and to evaluate their processes to ensure they will continue to work as the fab's lithography processes become more advanced.

"PROLITH is the established industry software standard for lithography simulation, and this latest addition cements our leadership in pattern transfer process control for the 100-nm node and beyond," stated Chris Mack, vice president of lithography technology at KLA-Tencor. "With a single lithography cell in an advanced fab today valued in the tens of millions of dollars, our customers can't afford to have their CDs out of spec and risk significant yield losses. PROLITH is a critical part of KLA-Tencor's comprehensive CD control solution designed to keep our customers' lithography processes within check and help them avoid these losses."

The PROLITH etch module is currently being evaluated at several customer beta sites. KLA-Tencor is now accepting orders for PROLITH with this new module, and plans to begin volume shipments to customers during the first half of CY 2002.

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.

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