The IC manufacturing industry is continuing to
follow Moore’s law to ever smaller critical dimensions and feature
sizes. The industry has produced Logic chips with design rules at the 14nm node since 2014 and is pushing
aggressively beyond 10nm to the 7nm technology node and beyond. As dimensions shrink, lithography, the
process of patterning wafers to produce ICs, is becoming increasingly complex and costly.
Multibeam is poised to make significant contributions to the industry by enabling Direct Electron Writing (DEW) and Complementary E-Beam Lithography (CEBL) through high-throughput, high-resolution, and cost-effective multi-column e-beam technology.
Direct Electron Writing (DEW)
Multibeam ChipLock™ DEW Systems embed security information in each IC including chip ID, communication address, and private key encryption. The chip ID guards against counterfeiting and enables supply chain traceability while encryption keys are crucial in authenticating software. IC-embedded ChipLock™ security complements software security and extends from IoT to other ICs that populate automobiles, power grids, manufacturing plants, communication networks, transportation networks, and other critical infrastructure.
DEW enables fast and cost-efficient customization of individual ICs. Chip-specific information written into DEW-bit registers is truly non-volatile, low-cost, and highly secure. Furthermore, DEW does not disrupt established manufacturing processes, is compatible with both 1D “lines-and-cuts” and conventional 2D layouts, and can be integrated into the production of microchips at any technology node, from legacy to leading edge.
Video about DEW
DEW writer embedding security data in each IC during production
Complementary E-Beam Lithography (CEBL)
CEBL is a new class of electron-beam lithography (EBL). EBL is an essential tool in R&D labs capable of patterning ICs with very high resolution without masks. However, its low throughput has kept it out of production environments. Optical lithography, on the other hand, has very high throughput in patterning identical microchips, but requires costly photomasks. Complementary lithography seeks to draw on the strengths of both Optical and E-beam, while avoiding their weaknesses.
For example, take a metal interconnect layer with the unidirectional (1D) layout style that has been adopted by leading IC companies. Let Optical litho print the “lines”, doing what it does best; then let e-beam write the “cuts” of the lines directly on wafer without masks (see Figure below).
CEBL complements Optical litho in patterning a critical layer
As a dedicated complementary tool, Multibeam’s CEBL does not seek to replace optical litho. In fact, it helps extend the productive use of optical lithography.
CEBL directly patterns cuts/holes to eliminate the need for costly masks associated with optical multi-patterning of gates, contacts, vias, and metal interconnect layers. In addition to lowering production cost, CEBL reduces cycle time and improves yield.
Video about CEBL
Electron Beam Inspection (EBI)
Multibeam’s multi-column common platform can be applied to high-throughput in-line wafer inspection and metrology as well as stand-alone conventional EBI. Multibeam was issued 4 patents in 2015 related to multi-column e-beam inspection to accelerate yield ramps in implementing new processes or in fabricating new ICs.
Press release on patent related to EBI
Direct Deposition/Etch (DDE)
Direct deposition facilitates patterning of IC layers through accurate deposition of material in accordance with the design layout database. Highly localized process control enables precision fabrication of advanced 3D device structures. In some applications, such as restoring interconnect continuity, the activation electrons are directed to repair defects that are detected during wafer inspection.
Direct etch allows activation electrons to be directed according to the design layout database. Process steps to form etch masks prior to etching are no longer needed. Costs are reduced and edge placement accuracy is improved by eliminating or reducing errors associated with photomasks, litho steps, and hard masks. With highly localized process control, etch depths can vary to accommodate advanced 3D device structures.
Press release on patents related to direct processing