Automation

The SEMulator3D Automation package adds value by enabling massively parallel variation studies. Multivariate process behavior studies that formerly required multiple wafers, dozens of FA tickets and weeks or months of waiting for fab cycles can now be performed on a workstation class machine in a few hours.

Software Evaluation

Enabling Massively Parallel Variation Studies

Easily perform automated parameter variation studies and related data analysis

SEMulator3D Metrology mimics actual metrology operations, providing in-line measurements of device structure. SEMulator3D Expeditor performs parameter variation studies, collecting related data for analysis. Expeditor and Metrology work together to leverage the capabilities of the SEMulator3D modeling engine and predict complex, multivariate process phenomena and design/technology interactions.

The SEMulator3D Automation package adds value by enabling massively parallel variation studies. Multivariate process behavior studies that formerly required multiple wafers, dozens of FA tickets and weeks or months of waiting for fab cycles can now be performed on a workstation class machine in a few hours.

SEMulator3D Metrology can generate automated measurements of critical structural attributes during a virtual fabrication run, similar to in-line metrology in the fab. Virtual Metrology can measure items such as film thickness, critical dimension (width), step height, sidewall angle, contact area and more. Metrology operations can be inserted after any step in a SEMulator3D process, and can be applied anywhere on the 3D model. Each operation outputs data in a compact, tabular format suitable for analysis in Excel and other data analysis tools.

In contrast to physical measurements, SEMulator3D Metrology is not limited by physics and can measure parameters that could only be determined destructively in the fab (see Figure 1). For instance: film thickness can be measured on individual features in product layout; sidewall angles and critical dimensions can be measured anywhere, even under overlying films; and contact area can be directly measured. Since Metrology operations are mask-driven, they can be performed on any device type and don’t require special metrology structures.

Metrology-measurements

Figure 1. Example of Metrology measurements (left) on a M2-V1-M1 BEOL module, showing (a) maximum Low-k thickness, (b) via y-direction spacing and (c) Low-k thickness at M2 trench; and example Metrology output (right).

Metrology output is a useful way to calibrate a SEMulator3D process flow against existing fab data. It can also be used to validate process assumptions, and to understand the full-flow ramifications of process changes on design rules.

Most technology decisions require information about device structure and function under target (centered) process conditions, as well as actual conditions. Since the SEMulator3D modeling engine is physics-driven, it correctly predicts device structure over a range of process conditions. This makes SEMulator3D an excellent tool for investigating and understanding the structural ramifications of process variations.

Expeditor enables automatic, spreadsheet-driven process variation studies. Starting from a calibrated SEMulator3D process description, one or more process parameters of interest may be varied through a specified range in a sequence of model builds. SEMulator3D Metrology data are automatically collected and assembled in spreadsheet form, enabling detailed analysis of the results.

Figures 2 shows a fin spacer patterning flow for a hypothetical sub-22nm technology (learn more about FEOL process flow).

S3.4_fig1_spacer_flow

Figure 1. SEMulator3D models showing a fin spacer patterning flow: (a) fin mandrel and spacer definition, (b) mandrel removal, (c) hard-mask patterning, (d) fin patterning and (e) Shallow Trench Isolation (STI) modules

Figure 2 shows data from a multivariate process variation study, performed in Expeditor and covering the full factorial process space for five critical process parameters in the spacer patterning flow.

S3.4_fig2_expeditor_results

Figure 2. Collected Virtual Metrology results from Expeditor on the process of Figure 2, showing profile sensitivities stemming from spacer deposition thickness and spacer conformality

The data show the effects of variation in spacer conformality and spacer thickness on fin critical dimension (CD) and height. While lower conformality appears to provide for less top CD variation, it also shows a severe instability in fin height. This instability is due to the thinner sidewall coverage being more prone to break-down during the deep silicon etch, thereby eroding the STI CMP-stop feature, resulting in deep STI recess. This subtle effect arises through a combination of process variations that would have been difficult to foresee without a predictive, 3D, integrated modeling platform.

SEMulator3D’s Structure Search feature automates the identification of possible failure locations, based on criteria such as minimum line width and dielectric thickness, minimum contact areas, or electrical shorts/opens. The entire 3D model can be inspected and checked against user-defined geometric criteria, with failure locations visually marked and location coordinates recorded. The following checks are supported:

  • Minimum Gap
  • Minimum Layer Thickness
  • Minimum Line Width
  • Min/Max Contact Area
  • Number of Components – Electrical or Structural
(a) separate electrical nets

(a) separate electrical nets

(b) insulation less than minimum thickness

(b) insulation less than minimum thickness

(c) metal lines less than minimum width

(c) metal lines less than minimum width

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