Developing the methodology to allow the early identification of defects in European semiconductor manufacturing.
Micro- and nano-electronics account for 10% of the EU’s GDP and are considered a Key Enabling Technology by the European Commission. Competitive advantage in the semiconductor industry is gained through the exploitation of new materials and processes, translating into improved component performance. Identifying nanoscale defects early during manufacturing enables a faster route to market and reduces waste.
Conductive Atomic Force Microscopes (C-AFM) and Scanning Microwave Microscopes (SMM) have the potential to allow accurate, non-destructive analysis of semiconductor components. However, a lack of reference standards and traceability to the SI, has limited industrial uptake of these techniques.
This project will develop current and resistance standards for AFM and SMM with target measurement uncertainties of 10%. A calibration set-up will be established for C-AFM and a novel capacitive calibration kit, including improved probe tips, will be developed for SMM, enabling in situ determination of important measurement parameters, including the dielectric constant. Calibration methodology will include the uncertainty contributions from influencing factors including those that arise from the standards, tip-sample interactions and from the measurement instrument itself. In addition, an open-source, 3D model will be developed to simulate probe-sample interactions on electrical measurements such as the effects of the water meniscus at the tip-sample interface.
The new reference standards and probes will be fabricated by means of industrially proven methods, facilitating the uptake and commercialisation of these techniques. As well as benefiting manufacturers of C-AFM and SMM, the validated methodologies are anticipated to provide a roadmap for future development of these techniques, allowing the improved analysis of new materials and products within the European semiconductor industry.