An Industry First, KLA-Tencor Adds New Inline Process Monitoring Capabilities To Benchmark Surfscan Wafer Inspection Product Family
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SAN JOSE, Calif., Dec 16, 2003--KLA-Tencor (NASDAQ: KLAC) today announced it has added new defect detection, analysis and process monitoring capabilities to its industry-leading Surfscan SP1 series of defect detection tools. A new suite of software options, called Monitor eXpert (MX 4.0), enables the Surfscan SP1 tools to provide both process monitoring information and benchmark defect detection in a single scan with no additional overhead -- giving wafer and IC manufacturers a fast and cost-effective alternative to many time-consuming and manual process-monitoring steps. Widely considered the benchmark tool for bare wafer defect detection, KLA-Tencor's Surfscan SP1 systems can be found in every process module at leading wafer and IC manufacturing fabs worldwide.

With shrinking design rules and advances in technology, small changes in wafer processing can create minute variations in wafer surface conditions which, in turn, can result in performance and yield issues in the final device -- a problem exacerbated by the introduction of new materials and processes at the 90 nm node and beyond. With MX 4.0 on the Surfscan SP1, wafer and IC manufacturers can, for the first time, simultaneously detect defects and gain critical insight into a wide variety of process characteristics inline, including surface roughness, the level of porosity for low-k dielectrics, resist and film thickness uniformity, chemical mechanical planarization (CMP) pad conditioning and polishing uniformity, and changes in bath chemistry during copper electro-chemical deposition (ECD).

MX 4.0 Sees Through the Haze
Defect monitoring is widely used in wafer and IC manufacturing to detect particles and defects during process tool qualification and monitoring. For most processes, however, monitoring defectivity alone does not reveal information about the wafer's surface condition or the overall stability of the process. Haze -- the low frequency signal caused by the scattering of laser light during darkfield inspection -- can reflect minute variations in surface uniformity or roughness that are caused by wafer processing; but, until now, haze measurement capability has only been available offline for process development. With MX4.0 on the Surfsacn SP1, haze data can be leveraged in production for the first time.

"The poly gate process is one of the most critical steps in the production of DRAM devices. Deviations in poly grain size can lead to lower-binning products or device failures that are only detected during final electrical testing," stated Dr. Luke Lin, Deputy Manager, Defect Analysis Section at Powerchip. "Our previous process for monitoring grain size required 20 minutes to make a nine-point site inspection offline. With the MX 4.0 upgrade on the Surfscan SP1, we can now inspect an entire wafer for abnormal poly grain size in less than a minute using the tool's new haze monitoring capabilities -- enabling us to increase our sampling frequency and further reduce the impact of these process variations on our product wafers."

MX 4.0's wafer haze monitoring capability provides early warning detection of processes that begin to deviate outside of their normal operating window. The software upgrade also includes a new haze analysis feature, which filters unusual haze patterns during inspection and enables users to identify these as defects previously unexplored and "invisible" for the process engineers. Some of these defects include slip lines, chuck marks and furnace cold spots. Haze analysis works by quantifying wafer haze properties with numerical traceable values. Large deviations or sudden changes in haze properties are identified as defects. Next, detailed whole-wafer haze defect maps are generated, and haze-related defects are reported. The brightfield sizing, an additional feature of the new MX 4.0, enables Surfscan SP1 systems to consistently quantify large-area and low-profile defects such as slurry burns, copper plating swirl marks, small mounds, shallow CMP scratches and resist bubbles.

"With the value of today's advanced process tools running in the thousands of dollars per hour of operation, our customers can't afford to shut down production for even an extra hour and take their tools offline in order to monitor their manufacturing processes," stated Mike Kirk, General Manager of Surfscan Division at KLA-Tencor. "With the new MX 4.0 upgrade, Surfscan SP1 significantly reduces the time and effort required for process monitoring--enabling our customers to get their process tools back into production faster using a tool that they already have in the fab."


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., with operations around the world, KLA-Tencor ranked #6 on S&P's 2002 index of the top 500 companies in the U.S. KLA-Tencor is traded on the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol KLAC. Additional information about the company is available on the Internet at http://www.kla-tencor.com

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