We have developed a new local overlay measurement technique on actual device patterns using a critical dimension scanning electron microscope (CD-SEM), which can be applied to two-dimensional (2D) device structures such as a static random access memory contact hole array. CD-SEM overlay measurement can provide additional local overlay information at the site of device patterns, complementary to the optical overlay. The methodology includes the use of pattern symmetry to cancel out many process effects and reduce measurement uncertainty. CD-SEM overlay metrology was compared with conventional optical overlay metrology in terms of measurement uncertainty and overlay model analysis, and very good correlation was confirmed. The developed methodology was applied to local overlay measurement of double patterning contact hole layers of leading edge devices. The local overlay distribution was obtained across the device area, and spatial correlation of the overlay error vectors was examined over a large range of distances. The applications of CD-SEM overlay metrology were explored, and methodologies were introduced to examine both the overlay of double patterning contacts at the edge of an array and lithographic process-induced overlay shift of contacts. Finally, a hybrid optical CD-SEM overlay metrology was introduced in order to capture a high order, device weighted overlay response. © 2011 Society of photo-optical instrumentation engineers (SPIE).