SPIE Advanced Lithography 2014
Conference paper

Characterization and mitigation of overlay error on silicon wafers with nonuniform stress

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Process-induced overlay errors are a growing problem in meeting the ever-tightening overlay requirements for integrated circuit production. While uniform process-induced stress is easily corrected, non-uniform stress across the wafer is much more problematic, often resulting in non-correctable overlay errors. Measurements of the wafer geometry of free, unchucked wafers give a powerful method for characterization of such non-uniform stress. We will describe a Patterned Wafer Geometry (PWG) tool, which uses optical methods to measure the geometry of in-process wafers. PWG data can be related to In-Plane Distortion (IPD) of the wafer through the PIR (Predicted IPD Residual) metric. This paper will explore the relationship between the PIR data and measured overlay data on Engineered Stress Monitor (ESM) wafers containing various designed stress variations. The process used to fabricate ESM wafers is quite versatile and can mimic many different stress variation signatures. For this study, ESM wafers were built with strong across-wafer stress variation and another ESM wafer set was built with strong intrafield stress variation. IPD was extensively characterized in two different ways: using standard overlay error metrology and using PWG metrology. Strong correlation is observed between these two independent sets of data, indicating that the PIR metric is able to clearly see wafer distortions. We have taken another step forward by using PIR data from the PWG tool to correct process-induced overlay error by feedforward to the exposure tool, a novel method that we call PWG-FF. We conclude that appropriate wafer geometry measurements of in-process wafers have strong potential to characterize and reduce process-induced overlay errors. © 2014 SPIE.