The OPC treatment of aerial mage ripples (local variations in aerial contour relative to constant target edges) is one of the growing issues with very low-k1 lithography employing hard off-axis illumination. The maxima and minima points in the aerial image, if not optimally treated within the existing model based OPC methodologies, could induce severe necking or bridging in the printed layout.
The current fragmentation schemes and the subsequent site simulations are rule-based, and hence not optimized according to the aerial image profile at key points. The authors are primarily exploring more automated software methods to detect the location of the ripple peaks as well as implementing a simplified implementation strategy that is less costly. We define this to be an adaptive site placement methodology based on aerial image ripples.
Recently, the phenomenon of aerial image ripples was considered within the analysis of the lithography process for cutting-edge technologies such as chromeless phase shifting masks and strong off-axis illumination approaches. Effort is spent during the process development of conventional model-based OPC with the mere goal of locating these troublesome points. This process leads to longer development cycles and so far only partial success was reported in suppressing them (the causality of ripple occurrence has not yet fully been explored). We present here our success in the implementation of a more flexible model-based OPC solution that will dynamically locate these ripples based on the local aerial image profile nearby the features edges. This model-based dynamic tracking of ripples will cut down some time in the OPC code development phase and avoid specifying some rule-based recipes.
Our implementation will include classification of the ripples bumps within one edge and the allocation of different weights in the OPC solution. This results in a new strategy of adapting site locations and OPC shifts of edge fragments to avoid any aggressive correction that may lead to increasing the ripples or propagating them to a new location. More advanced adaptation will be the ripples-aware fragmentation as a second control knob, beside the automated site placement.