[OPTICAL REVIEW Vol. 17, No. 5 (2010) 499-506]
© 2010 The Japan Society of Applied Physics

Subnanometer-Accuracy Z-Position Monitor Mask for Optical Lithography

Hiroshi NOMURA

Device Process Development Center, Corporate Research & Development Center, Toshiba Corporation, 8 Shinsugita-cho, Isogo-ku, Yokohama 235-8522, Japan

(Received May 14, 2010; Accepted June 30, 2010)

A lithographic test pattern, the phase shift grating (PSG) z monitor, is introduced. Through the use of phase shift techniques, position errors of images in the z-direction translate into lateral shifts in the printed pattern. The lateral shifts are easily measurable using an overlay metrology tool. Each z monitor pattern in a test mask can be directly read for the sign and magnitude of the z error. When the experimental conditions, namely, the period of a PSG and a coherent factor of the lithography tool simultaneously satisfies a criterion of the asymmetric two-beam interference between the zeroth-order ray and either of the two first-order rays of diffraction, the linearity of a z-vs-overlay curve is always complete and the slope of the curve is constant everywhere in the image field. Using state-of-the-art overlay metrology tools, we realized subnanometer-order accuracy in the z measurement.

Key words: optical lithography, alternating phase shift mask, focus, aberration