Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering

Automated search method for AFM and profilers

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A new automation software creates a search model as an initial setup and searches for a user-defined target in atomic force microscopes or stylus profilometers used in semiconductor manufacturing. The need for such automation has become critical in manufacturing lines. The new method starts with a survey map of a small area of a chip obtained from a chip-design database or an image of the area. The user interface requires a user to point to and define a precise location to be measured, and to select a macro function for an application such as line width or contact hole. The search algorithm automatically constructs a range of possible scan sequences within the survey, and provides increased speed and functionality compared to the methods used in instruments to date. Each sequence consists in a starting point relative to the target, a scan direction, and a scan length. The search algorithm stops when the location of a target is found and criteria for certainty in positioning is met. With today's capability in high speed processing and signal control, the tool can simultaneously scan and search for a target in a robotic and continuous manner. Examples are given that illustrate the key concepts. © 2001 SPIE.