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Challenges for Small Defect Characterization During Wafer Processing.
C. R. Brundle,
Defect and Thin Film Characterization,
Applied Materials,
Santa Clara

There is often confusion as to how the wafer processing industry uses the terms defect detection, review, classification and characterization, so their meanings and inter-relations are briefly reviewed. Defect Characterization implies analysis in sufficient depth to establish the nature of the defect and root cause. This often involves close collaboration between the analyst and the engineer (Process/Defect/Yield) “owning” the problem.

For particle defects, the first, and all-important, challenge is to quickly and reliably re-find any defect identified as such by defect detection, even down to very small sizes (sub 0.1um). Requirements for achieving this are discussed. The second challenge is composition and morphology determination by SEM/EDX. With correct protocols (which will depend on circumstance) it is often possible to determine composition sufficiently well to determine what the particle is (eg. Al2O3, not “contains Al and O”) and establish root cause, even down to the 0.2um range. Sometimes SEM/EDX is insufficient, either because chemistry/phase information is also needed (eg. hydrocarbon, graphite, or diamond, not just “carbon”), or because the particle is too small or too thin for EDX. Then it is necessary to move to more sophisticated techniques capable of giving chemistry information and/or of handling very small or very thin situations.

Examples, drawn from a range of hardware issues and processes (CVD, etch, CMP, etc.), largely during hardware/process development through to alpha and beta exit of the tool/process, are given. They fall into the classes of a) where SEM/EDX (done at the expert level) is necessary and sufficient to establish root cause, and b) where one or more of the techniques of SEM/FIB/EDX, micro-Raman, SAM, SIMS, or AFM are also needed. All work involves analytical instrumentation handling full 300mm wafers, with the exception of SIMS.

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