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Synopsys : Patent Issued for Method and Apparatus for Process Window Modeling (USPTO 9679086)

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06/22/2017 | 10:02pm CEST

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Journal of Engineering -- SYNOPSYS, INC. (Mountain View, CA) has been issued patent number 9679086, according to news reporting originating out of Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews editors.

The patent's inventor is Isoyan, Artak (Beaverton, OR).

This patent was filed on May 23, 2014 and was published online on June 13, 2017.

From the background information supplied by the inventors, news correspondents obtained the following quote: "Field

"The present technology relates to methods and apparatuses for improving optical proximity correction (OPC) model building, capable of extrapolation to any process condition within focus-exposure matrix (FEM), which can reduce the number of process combinations at which sample structures are made and empirically measured sample data are collected.

"Description of Related Art

"Conventional process window (PW) capable OPC models are calibrated at multiple process conditions (defocus and dose variations) across a focus-exposure matrix (FEM). However, such models cannot guarantee accurate prediction of new process conditions that are different from process conditions used in model calibration. The more process conditions that are included in the conventional OPC model calibration, the better the expected quality of the conventional process variation aware OPC model. However, multiple process conditions require additional wafer exposures and empirically measured data collection, and also increases the time needed to calibrate process variation aware OPC model.

"With conventional process variation aware OPC model calibration, compact models are suited for predicting critical dimensions (CDs) only at the process condition(s) used in model calibration. When new process conditions vary from the process condition(s) used in model calibration, such models cannot guarantee correct prediction at the new process conditions (e.g., of the CDs at the new process conditions). Incomplete decoupling of the model's optical and resist effects disallows successful process window extrapolation beyond the process condition(s) used in model calibration.

"FIG. 1 shows a conventional calibration flow. The OPC models consist of mask, optical, and resist components; and corresponding model parameters. An optical model is generated by changing film stack placement and exposure dose values 12. In calibration of the conventional OPC model, the model is calibrated at several process conditions 14 using a global optimization. A resist model is generated by adding resist effects 20. The model parameters are optimized during the model calibration process for the best possible match to sets of empirical data 22, 24, 26. Model calibration is performed until achieving an acceptable error tolerance of the modeled critical dimension 28. The result is the optimized OPC model 30.

"However, the ability of the model to extrapolate to new process conditions other than those used for calibration, strictly depends on the number of process conditions included in model calibration. Also, significant time is required to calibrate such models, since the model calibration runtime is a linear function of the number of process conditions. Also, compact OPC models for 45 nm and smaller technology nodes have a large number of parameters that must be optimized during the model fitting process for the best possible match with the empirical data. Model calibration runtime has increased due to the complexity and increased number of model components and parameters to be optimized. Each process condition in the model calibration requires the collection of empirical data from exposed wafers made at the corresponding process condition, which leads to the additional requirement of collecting and analyzing significant quantities of process data. Also, hardware limits the number of process conditions used in a conventional PW OPC model calibration, since the physical computer memory usage is a linear function of the number of process conditions.

"Traditional OPC models only compute the optimal pattern layout to optimize lithography patterning at the best process condition. An OPC model performs fast and reliable critical dimension (CD) prediction of all features present in the design layout. Accurate prediction of CD changes and lithographic effects under varying process conditions is beyond the scope of these mathematical models. OPC models that model only nominal process conditions are insufficient, due to inevitable process variation (such as defocus and dose variations) during production that place the post-OPC layout at a non-negligible patterning failure risk."

Supplementing the background information on this patent, VerticalNews reporters also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent: "In the disclosed technology, a photolithographic modeling process is disclosed. Optical and non-optical parts of a model of the photolithographic process are calibrated. With the non-optical part of the model one or more model corrections are determined between (i) modeled critical dimension data from an aerial image generated by the optical part of the model, and (ii) empirical critical dimension data from tangible structures made at only a first process combination of a first dose and a first defocus in the photolithographic process. Critical dimension data of the photolithographic process are predicted at a second process combination of a second dose and a second defocus in the photolithographic process.

"One aspect of the technology is a computer-implemented method for modeling a photolithographic process. A process window capable optical proximity correction compact model is built, based on empirical data obtained from only a first process combination of a focus-exposure matrix of the photolithographic process. The process window capable optical proximity correction compact model is used to extrapolate process combinations different from the first process combination in the focus-exposure matrix.

"One embodiment further comprises, building a non-optical part of the process window capable optical proximity correction compact model and an optical part of the process window capable optical proximity correction compact model. One embodiment further comprises, using at least the optical part of the process window capable optical proximity correction model and the non-optical of the process window capable optical proximity correction model, predicting critical dimension data of the photolithographic process at a second process combination of the focus-exposure matrix of the photolithographic process, wherein the second process combination and the first process combination are different in at least one of a dose and a defocus.

"Another aspect of the technology is a computer-implemented method for modeling a photolithographic process is a method. An optical part of a model of the photolithographic process is calibrated, resulting in a calibrated optical part of the model.

"A non-optical part of the model of the photolithographic process is calibrated with computer resources, by determining one or more model corrections between (i) modeled critical dimension data from an aerial image generated by the optical part of the model, and (ii) empirical critical dimension data from tangible structures made at only a first process combination of a first dose and a first defocus in the photolithographic process, resulting in a calibrated non-optical part of the model; and

"Using at least the calibrated optical part of the model and the calibrated non-optical of the model, critical dimension data of the photolithographic process are predicted at a second process combination of a second dose and a second defocus in the photolithographic process, the first process combination and the second process combination being different in at least one of a dose and a defocus.

"In one embodiment, the one or more model corrections includes a dose shift in the non-optical part of the model of the photolithographic process.

"In one embodiment, the one or more model corrections includes a defocus shift in the non-optical part of the model of the photolithographic process.

"In one embodiment, calibrating the optical part of the model of the photolithographic process, results in decoupling the optical part of the model of the photolithographic process and the non-optical part of the model of the photolithographic process.

"In one embodiment, adjustment of the defocus and the level in the resist stack, is sufficient to calibrate the optical part of the model.

"In one embodiment, calibrating the optical part, includes adjusting (i) a defocus of the optical part of the model of the photolithographic process and (ii) a level in a resist stack on a wafer of the optical part of the model of the photolithographic process, to optimize a contrast value, the contrast value calculated at the level in the resist stack.

"In one embodiment, the contrast value is optimized by maximizing the contrast value.

"In one embodiment, calibrating the optical part is performed on one dimensional structures of the photolithographic pattern.

"In one embodiment, calibrating the non-optical part is performed on one dimensional structures of the photolithographic pattern.

"In one embodiment, two dimensional structures of the photolithographic pattern are excluded from calibrating the optical part, and included in predicting the critical dimension data.

"In one embodiment, the non-optical part of the model includes at least one of a mask part of the model and a resist part of the model.

"Other aspects are directed to a computer readable medium storing computer instructions to perform a method of designing an integrated circuit, the method for use by a computer system having a processor and memory. The computer instructions are executable by the computer system to design the integrated circuit as described herein.

"Other aspects are directed to a computer system designing an integrated circuit, comprising a processor and memory, configured to model a photolithographic process as described herein."

For the URL and additional information on this patent, see: Isoyan, Artak. Method and Apparatus for Process Window Modeling. U.S. Patent Number 9679086, filed May 23, 2014, and published online on June 13, 2017. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=9679086.PN.&OS=PN/9679086RS=PN/9679086

Keywords for this news article include: Technology, SYNOPSYS INC..

Our reports deliver fact-based news of research and discoveries from around the world. Copyright 2017, NewsRx LLC

(c) 2017 NewsRx LLC, source Science Newsletters

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Sales 2017 2 664 M
EBIT 2017 622 M
Net income 2017 302 M
Finance 2017 935 M
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P/E ratio 2017 39,40
P/E ratio 2018 32,56
EV / Sales 2017 3,84x
EV / Sales 2018 3,48x
Capitalization 11 177 M
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