We develop new approaches to optical microscopy and electromagnetic modeling to enable improved metrology of nanoscale structures with dimensions more than an order of magnitude below traditional resolution limits. New applications and standards produced from these methods include defect inspection and critical dimension metrology for nanoelectronics.
This project develops new approaches to optical microscopy based on a high magnification optical platform that samples the full 3-D scattered field. Both the semiconductor industry and the evolving nanomanufacturing sector are facing enormous challenges measuring nanometer scale features over large areas, needed for effective manufacturing process control of products that incorporate billions of nanoscale features. Optical microscopy is a high-throughput metrology methodology that provides a unique advantage since it is a high-bandwidth measurement method that is inherently parallel.
Measurements with sensitivity to features less than one-twentieth the wavelength can be made by analysis of scattered light profiles and the use of physics-based modeling. Extensive electromagnetic modeling, developed in-house, enables quantitative metrology of nanoscale structures more than an order of magnitude below traditional resolution limits.
This project meets key NIST priorities in advanced manufacturing, energy, and photonics. We have had several contracts from the semiconductor industry as well as the Department of Energy for fuel-cell process control research. We have directly impacted semiconductor hardware platforms for optical overlay, defect, and critical dimension measurement. This project has also had a broad impact on the extensibility of optical methods for semiconductor manufacturing metrology. The project has launched a new effort to better describe the fundamental physics behind reductions in the optical constants of the next generation of nanoelectronic materials at reduced dimensions, such as nanowires. By providing quantitative values experimentally and from calculations, electromagnetic scattering can accurately meet future industry needs.