Scheuring, Gerd; Döbereiner, Stefan; Hillmann, Frank; Falk, Günther; Brück, Hans-Jürgen (MueTec GmbH, D-80992 Munich, Germany)
Besides the mask market for IC manufacturing, which mainly uses 6 inch sized masks, the market for the so called large area masks is growing very rapidly. Typical applications of these masks are mainly wafer bumping for current packaging processes, color filters on TFTs, and Flip Chip manufacturing. To expose e.g. bumps and similar features on 200 mm wafers under proximity exposure conditions 9 inch masks are used, while in 300 mm wafer bumping processes 14 inch masks are handled. Flip Chip manufacturing needs masks up to 28 by 32 inch. This current maximum mask dimension is expected to hold for the next 5 years in industrial production. On the other hand shrinking feature sizes, just as in case of the IC masks, demand enhanced sensitivity of the inspection tools. A defect inspection tool for those masks is valuable for both the mask maker, who has to deliver a defect free mask to his customer, and for the mask user to supervise the mask behavior conditions during its lifetime. This is necessary because large area masks are mainly used for proximity exposures. During this process itself the mask is vulnerable by contacting the resist on top of the wafers. Therefore a regular inspection of the mask after 25, 50, or 100 exposures has to be done during its whole lifetime. Thus critical resist contamination and other defects, which lead to yield losses, can be recognized early. In the future shrinking feature dimensions will require even more sensitive and reliable defect inspection methods than they do presently. Besides the sole inspection capability the tools should also provide highly precise measurement capabilities and extended review options.