(19)
(11)EP 3 339 959 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
27.06.2018 Bulletin 2018/26

(21)Application number: 16206732.6

(22)Date of filing:  23.12.2016
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
G03F 9/00(2006.01)
G03F 7/20(2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
MA MD

(71)Applicant: ASML Netherlands B.V.
5500 AH Veldhoven (NL)

(72)Inventors:
  • HUIJGEN, Ralph, Timotheus
    5500 AH Veldhoven (NL)
  • KEA, Marc, Jurian
    5500 AH Veldhoven (NL)
  • VAN KESSEL, Marcel, Theodorus, Maria
    5500 AH Veldhoven (NL)

(74)Representative: Peters, John Antoine 
ASML Netherlands BV Corporate Intellectual Property P.O. Box 324
5500 AH Veldhoven
5500 AH Veldhoven (NL)

  


(54)METHOD OF DETERMINING A POSITION OF A FEATURE


(57) The present invention provides a method, system and program for determining a position of a feature referenced to a substrate. The method comprises measuring a position of the feature, receiving an intended placement of the feature and determining an estimate of a placement error based on knowledge of a relative position of a first reference feature referenced to a first layer on a substrate with respect to a second reference feature referenced to a second layer on a substrate. The updated position may be used to position the layer of the substrate comprising the feature, or another layer of the substrate, or another layer of another substrate.




Description

BACKGROUND


Field of the Invention



[0001] The present invention relates to a method, system and program for determining a position of a feature referenced to a substrate.

Background Art



[0002] A lithographic apparatus is a machine that applies a desired pattern onto a substrate, usually onto a target portion of the substrate. A lithographic apparatus can be used, for example, in the manufacture of integrated circuits (ICs). In that instance, a patterning device, which is alternatively referred to as a mask or a reticle, may be used to generate a circuit pattern to be formed on an individual layer of the IC. This pattern can be transferred onto a target portion (e.g., including part of, one, or several dies) on a substrate (e.g., a silicon wafer). Transfer of the pattern is typically via imaging onto a layer of radiation-sensitive material (resist) provided on the substrate. In general, a single substrate will contain a network of adjacent target portions that are successively patterned. These target portions are commonly referred to as "fields".

[0003] In lithographic processes, it is desirable to frequently measure the structures created forming a circuit pattern, e.g., for process control and verification. Various tools for making such measurements are known, including scanning electron microscopes, which are often used to measure critical dimension (CD), and specialized tools to measure overlay, which is the accuracy of alignment of two layers in an at least partially patterned substrate.

[0004] Various techniques can be used to measure performance of the lithographic process. This in turn allows sophisticated process corrections to be included in the control of the operations performed by the lithographic apparatus. For example, a feedback system as described below is generally known for making corrections to the positioning of the substrates in the system by measuring the positioning error between two different layers of the substrate. The positioning error between the two different layers of the substrate is called the overlay error.

[0005] Before exposure of a substrate, the substrate is aligned. The goal of the alignment is to determine, for each substrate, the field centres and local distortions, to limit overlay error between layers of the substrate. This is accomplished by measuring alignment marks that are printed on at least one layer of the substrate. The difference between the expected and measured location of the alignment marks is used as the input for the alignment model. The alignment model (which may be based on a linear or higher order alignment) gives an output comprising parameters used for optimizing the position of the substrate during subsequent exposure of the substrate.

[0006] To further control the errors in positioning, a feedback system is used often called an automated process control (APC) system. The APC system measures the overlay error for a number of substrates and determines corrections required to reduce the overlay error. These corrections are then used as input for future exposures. The APC system typically includes high-order corrections per exposure. The APC system is intended to correct slowly changing overlay errors as overlay error measurement is done only on a per lot basis. The APC system is intended to correct for varying effects from layer to layer and from lot to lot.

[0007] These corrections typically correct for deformation of the substrate due to, for example, process variations, clamping variations and/or temperature variations. These effects can vary significantly per substrate and the process of using the lot based APC control for the overlay error still results in undesirable errors in the positioning of the substrate.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



[0008] The present invention has the aim of improving determining the position of a feature referenced to a substrate.

[0009] According to an aspect of the invention, there is provided a method for determining a position of a feature referenced to a substrate, the method comprises: measuring a position of the feature, wherein the feature is configured to enable positioning of the substrate; receiving an intended placement of the feature; determining an estimate of a placement error, wherein the placement error is the difference between the intended placement and an actual placement of the feature, based on knowledge of a relative position of a first reference feature referenced to a first layer with respect to a second reference feature referenced to a second layer, wherein the first layer and the second layer are on a substrate; and determining an updated position for the feature using the estimate of the placement error and the measured position of the feature.

[0010] According to another aspect of the invention, there is provided a system comprising a processor configured to determine a position of a feature referenced to a substrate, the processor configured to: measure a position of the feature, wherein the feature is configured to enable positioning of the substrate; receive an intended placement of the feature; determine an estimate of a placement error, wherein the placement error is the difference between the intended placement and an actual placement of the feature, based on knowledge of a relative position of a first reference feature referenced to a first layer with respect to a second reference feature referenced to a second layer, wherein the first layer and the second layer are on a substrate; and determine an updated position for the feature using the estimate of the placement error and the measured position of the feature.

[0011] According to another aspect of the invention, there is provided a program for controlling determining a position of a feature referenced to a substrate, the program comprises instructions for carrying out the steps of: measuring a position of the feature, wherein the feature is configured to enable positioning of the substrate; receiving an intended placement of the feature; determining an estimate of a placement error, wherein the placement error is the difference between the intended placement and an actual placement of the feature, based on knowledge of a relative position of a first reference feature referenced to a first layer with respect to a second reference feature referenced to a second layer, wherein the first layer and the second layer are on a substrate; and determining an updated position for the feature using the estimate of the placement error and the measured position of the feature.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0012] Embodiments of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying schematic drawings in which:

Figure 1 depicts a lithographic apparatus together with other apparatuses forming a production facility for semiconductor devices, as an example of a system in which an embodiment of the invention may be used;

Figure 2 is a flowchart of a method of determining and using an updated position of a feature of a substrate; and

Figure 3 is a flowchart of a method of determining and using an updated position of a feature of a substrate.


DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS



[0013] Before describing embodiments of the invention in detail, it is instructive to present an example environment in which embodiments of the present invention may be implemented. The invention can be applied, for example, in controlling a process step in a lithographic manufacturing process. The invention can be applied for example to control a lithographic apparatus, when applying patterns at locations across one or more substrates. A lithographic process for the manufacture of semiconductor devices will be described to provide an exemplary context in which the method can be used. The principles of the present disclosure can be applied in other processes without limitation.

[0014] Figure 1 shows a lithographic apparatus LA at 100 as part of an industrial facility implementing a high-volume, lithographic manufacturing process. In the present example, the manufacturing process is adapted for the manufacture of semiconductor products (integrated circuits) on substrates such as semiconductor wafers. The skilled person will appreciate that a wide variety of products can be manufactured by processing different types of substrates in variants of this process. The production of semiconductor products is used purely as an example which has great commercial significance today.

[0015] Within the lithographic apparatus (or "litho tool" 100 for short), a measurement station MEA is shown at 102 and an exposure station EXP is shown at 104. A control unit LACU is shown at 106. In this example, each substrate visits the measurement station and the exposure station to have a pattern applied. In an optical lithographic apparatus, for example, a projection system is used to transfer a product pattern from a patterning device MA onto the substrate using conditioned radiation and a projection system. This is done by forming an image of the pattern in a layer of radiation-sensitive resist material on a substrate.

[0016] The term "projection system" used herein should be broadly interpreted as encompassing any type of projection system, including refractive, reflective, catadioptric, magnetic, electromagnetic and electrostatic optical systems, or any combination thereof, as appropriate for the exposure radiation being used, and/or for other factors such as the use of an immersion liquid or the use of a vacuum. In general the projection system is referred to as the "lens" throughout this document. The patterning device MA may be a mask or reticle, which imparts a pattern to a radiation beam transmitted or reflected by the patterning device MA. Well-known modes of operation include a stepping mode and a scanning mode. As is well known, the projection system may cooperate with support and positioning systems for the substrate and the patterning device in a variety of ways to apply a desired pattern to many target portions across a substrate. Programmable patterning devices may be used instead of reticles having a fixed pattern. The radiation for example may include electromagnetic radiation in the deep ultraviolet (DUV) or extreme ultraviolet (EUV) wavebands. The present disclosure is also applicable to other types of lithographic process, for example imprint lithography and direct writing lithography, for example by electron beam.

[0017] The lithographic apparatus control unit LACU controls all the movements and measurements of various actuators and sensors, causing the apparatus to receive substrates W and reticles MA and to implement the patterning operations. Control unit LACU also includes signal processing and data processing capacity to implement desired calculations relevant to the operation of the apparatus. In practice, control unit LACU will be realized as a system of many sub-units, each handling the real-time data acquisition, processing and control of a subsystem or component within the lithographic apparatus LA.

[0018] Before the pattern is applied to a substrate at the exposure station EXP, the substrate is processed at the measurement station MEA so that various preparatory steps may be carried out. The preparatory steps may include mapping the surface height of the substrate using a level sensor and measuring the position of alignment marks on the substrate using an alignment sensor. The alignment marks are arranged nominally in a regular grid pattern. However, due to inaccuracies in creating the marks and also due to deformations of the substrate that occur throughout its processing, the alignment marks may deviate from the ideal grid. Consequently, in addition to measuring position and orientation of the substrate, the alignment sensor in practice must measure in detail the positions of many marks across the substrate area, if the apparatus is to print product features at the correct locations with very high accuracy.

[0019] The lithographic apparatus LA may be of a so-called dual stage type which has two substrate tables, each with a positioning system controlled by the control unit LACU. While one substrate on one substrate table is being exposed at the exposure station EXP, another substrate can be loaded onto the other substrate table at the measurement station MEA so that various preparatory steps may be carried out. The measurement of alignment marks is therefore very time-consuming and the provision of two substrate tables enables a substantial increase in the throughput of the apparatus. If the position sensor IF is not capable of measuring the position of the substrate table while it is at the measurement station as well as at the exposure station, a second position sensor may be provided to enable the positions of the substrate table to be tracked at both stations. Alternatively, the measurement station and exposure station can be combined. For example, it is known to have a single substrate table, to which a measurement stage is temporarily coupled during the pre-exposure measuring phase. The present disclosure is not limited to either type of system.

[0020] Within the production facility, apparatus 100 forms part of a "litho cell" or "litho cluster" that contains also a coating apparatus 108 for applying photosensitive resist and other coatings to substrates W for patterning by the apparatus 100. At an output side of apparatus 100, a baking apparatus 110 and developing apparatus 112 are provided for developing the exposed pattern into a physical resist pattern. Between all of these apparatuses, substrate handling systems take care of supporting the substrates and transferring them from one piece of apparatus to the next. These apparatuses, which are often collectively referred to as the "track", are under the control of a track control unit which is itself controlled by a supervisory control system SCS, which also controls the lithographic apparatus via lithographic apparatus control unit LACU. Thus, the different apparatuses can be operated to maximize throughput and processing efficiency. Supervisory control system SCS receives recipe information R which provides in great detail a definition of the steps to be performed to create each patterned substrate.

[0021] Once the pattern has been applied and developed in the litho cell, patterned substrates 120 are transferred to other processing apparatuses such as are illustrated at 122, 124, 126. A wide range of processing steps are implemented by various apparatuses in a typical manufacturing facility. For the sake of example, apparatus 122 in this embodiment is an etching station, and apparatus 124 performs a post-etch annealing step. Further physical and/or chemical processing steps are applied in further apparatuses, 126, etc.. Numerous types of operation can be required to make a real device, such as deposition of material, modification of surface material characteristics (oxidation, doping, ion implantation etc.), chemical-mechanical polishing (CMP), and so forth. The apparatus 126 may, in practice, represent a series of different processing steps performed in one or more apparatuses.

[0022] As is well known, the manufacture of semiconductor devices involves many repetitions of such processing, to build up device structures with appropriate materials and patterns, layer-by-layer on the substrate. Accordingly, substrates 130 arriving at the litho cluster may be newly prepared substrates, or they may be substrates that have been processed previously in this cluster or in another apparatus entirely. Similarly, depending on the required processing, substrates 132 on leaving apparatus 126 may be returned for a subsequent patterning operation in the same litho cluster, they may be destined for patterning operations in a different cluster, or the substrate 134 may be finished products to be sent for dicing and packaging.

[0023] Each layer of the product structure requires a different set of process steps, and the apparatuses 126 used at each layer may be completely different in type. Further, even where the processing steps to be applied by the apparatus 126 are nominally the same, in a large facility, there may be several supposedly identical machines working in parallel to perform the step 126 on different substrates. Small differences in set-up or faults between these machines can mean that they influence different substrates in different ways. Even steps that are relatively common to each layer, such as etching (apparatus 122) may be implemented by several etching apparatuses that are nominally identical but working in parallel to maximize throughput. In practice, moreover, different layers require different etch processes, for example chemical etches, plasma etches, according to the details of the material to be etched, and special requirements such as, for example, anisotropic etching.

[0024] The previous and/or subsequent processes may be performed in other lithography apparatuses, as just mentioned, and may even be performed in different types of lithography apparatus. For example, some layers in the device manufacturing process which are very demanding in parameters such as resolution and overlay may be performed in a more advanced lithography tool than other layers that are less demanding. Therefore some layers may be exposed in an immersion type lithography tool, while others are exposed in a 'dry' tool. Some layers may be exposed in a tool working at DUV wavelengths, while others are exposed using EUV wavelength radiation.

[0025] In order that the substrates that are exposed by the lithographic apparatus are exposed correctly and consistently, it is desirable to inspect exposed substrates to measure properties such as overlay errors between subsequent layers, line thicknesses, critical dimensions (CD), etc.. Accordingly a manufacturing facility in which litho cell is located also includes metrology system MET which receives some or all of the substrates W that have been processed in the litho cell. Metrology results are provided directly or indirectly to the supervisory control system (SCS) 138. If errors are detected, adjustments may be made to exposures of subsequent substrates, especially if the metrology can be done soon and fast enough that other substrates of the same lot are still to be exposed. Also, already exposed substrates may be stripped and reworked to improve yield, or discarded, thereby avoiding performing further processing on substrates that are known to be faulty. In a case where only some target portions of a substrate are faulty, further exposures can be performed only on those target portions which are good.

[0026] Also shown in Figure 1 is a metrology apparatus 140 which is provided for making measurements of parameters of the products at desired stages in the manufacturing process. A common example of a metrology apparatus in a modern lithographic production facility is a scatterometer, for example an angle-resolved scatterometer or a spectroscopic scatterometer, and it may be applied to measure properties of the developed substrates at 120 prior to etching in the apparatus 122. Using metrology apparatus 140, it may be determined, for example, that important performance parameters such as overlay or critical dimension (CD) do not meet specified accuracy requirements in the developed resist. Prior to the etching step, the opportunity exists to strip the developed resist and reprocess the substrates 120 through the litho cluster. As is also well known, the metrology results 142 from the metrology apparatus 140 can be used to maintain accurate performance of the patterning operations in the litho cluster, by supervisory control system SCS and/or control unit LACU 106 making small adjustments over time, thereby minimizing the risk of products being made out-of-specification, and requiring re-work. Of course, metrology apparatus 140 and/or other metrology apparatuses (not shown) can be applied to measure properties of the processed substrates 132, 134, and incoming substrates 130.

[0027] In the example of a lithographic manufacturing process, the substrates are semiconductor wafers or other substrates to which patterns are to be applied in a patterning step, and structures formed by physical and chemical process steps.

[0028] At least one feature 160 may be provided on a surface of a substrate 120, 132, 132, 134 to enable positioning of the substrate. The feature 160 may be a specific feature intended for alignment, or any other feature which may be measured to allow the substrate to be aligned, e.g. before exposure. The positioning of the substrate may be carried out using the feature 160. The positioning includes moving the substrate in a variety of ways, including moving the substrate large distances, and/or making very small adjustments to the position of the substrate. A feature 160 is shown on each of the substrate 130 of figure 1 but may equally be found on the other substrates depicted in figure 1. The feature 160 may be used to align a layer of a substrate to a previous layer (or layers) of the substrate which have already been exposed. The feature 160 is shown as a single feature on the surface of the substrate, but it will be understood that the feature 160 may be part of a grid pattern and/or there may be multiple features 160 on any single substrate layer. The location of the feature 160 is measured to ensure that the substrate is positioned in the correct location when exposure of the substrate 130 is carried out. As already described, any errors in the positioning of the substrate 130 may lead to overlay errors potentially causing yield loss of the lithographic process. As described above, known methods for reducing overlay errors are known and systems such as metrology system 140 and supervisory control system SCS may already be in place to minimize overlay error.

[0029] Although the feature 160 is placed on the substrate as accurately as possible, during exposure of the feature 160 there will normally be an error in the placement of the feature 160. This can be referred to as the placement error. The placement error is the difference between an intended placement of the feature 160 and an actual placement of the feature 160. This means that the feature 160 is not printed exactly at the desired location. Thus, when using the feature 160 to position a substrate 130 and aligning a subsequent layer of the substrate (or a layer of a further substrate), the layer will not be at the exact position where it is expected. Thus, any resulting position corrections based on the alignment measurements will contain the placement error.

[0030] The placement error may be determined in different ways. For example, lens and/or patterning device MA distortions can cause an overlay error having a certain fingerprint across a field (intrafield fingerprint). An overlay fingerprint is the overlay error across the fields of the substrate. The overlay fingerprint may vary across the fields and/or substrates because it depends on the state of the substrate 130, lens and/or patterning device MA which will typically change during exposure of substrates 130. The overlay fingerprint may change during exposure due to the (non-uniform) temperature increases of the substrate 130, patterning device MA and/or the lens. These distortions within the field are typically high-order, meaning that the centre of the field is not necessarily displaced, but the shape of the field may be distorted. Depending on where the intended placement of the feature 160 is on the substrate 130, this will mean there is a placement error which varies per lot of substrates, per substrate, per layer and even per field of the substrate.

[0031] An error in the placement of a feature used to align layers of a substrate can lead to overlay error. An error in the placement means that there is a difference between the intended location of the features used to position the layers, and the actual location of the features used to position the layers. The error in the placement of these features can lead to each of the layers being positioned in slightly incorrect location for exposure, thus leading to overlay error. The automated process control (APC) system will try to account for this error as it will control part of the static and drifting part of the overlay error. However, the APC system may not be able to control overlay error variations between substrates. When overlay is critical between two layers of a substrate, and those layers align to alignment markers in different layers, or use different alignment models, this can result in increased overlay variation, i.e. overlay errors. This will reduce the yield of substrates produced by the lithographic apparatus 100. The effect of the placement error could possibly cancel out without affecting overlay if the layers are aligned to alignment markers in the same layers, using the same alignment model and settings of the system measuring the position of the alignment markers (eg wavelength of radiation used to measure and the order wherein the markers are measured). However, this is not always possible or desirable and imposes unrealistic physical constraints. The method described in the embodiments has fewer constraints and thus increase design freedom.

[0032] A variation in intrafield distortions and/or translation and/or rotations of the field during placement of the feature 160 results in variation during exposure of layers of the substrate which are aligned to that feature 160. When the position of the feature 160 is measured, the displacement of the feature may be interpreted as an overlay error and thus, the field centres will be erroneously "corrected" based on a translation error. Thus the placement error may cause an incorrect "correction" which affects alignment of the substrate which contributes to overlay error. Presently known systems do not adequately account for the placement error.

[0033] In an embodiment, a method is provided for determining a position of a feature reference to a substrate. The method comprises measuring a position of the feature, wherein the feature is configured to enable positioning of the substrate. The method further comprises receiving an intended placement of the feature and determining an estimate of a placement error. The placement error is the difference between the intended placement of the feature and an actual placement of the feature. The placement error can be determined based on knowledge of a relative position of the first reference feature reference to a first layer with respect to a second reference feature reference to a second layer, wherein the first layer and the second layer are on a substrate. The method further comprises determining an updated position for the feature using the estimate of the placement error and the measured position of the feature. The feature 160 being referenced to a substrate 130 may mean that the feature is on a substrate 130, e.g. located on a layer of a substrate 130. The first reference feature and the second reference feature being referenced to a first layer and second layer respectively may mean that the first reference feature is on the first layer and the second reference feature is on the second layer.

[0034] By using both the measured position of the feature and determining an estimate of the placement error, a more accurate position of the feature (i.e. the updated position) can be determined. As described, despite the above described known systems for correcting and reducing positioning errors, there is a further problem that errors can be introduced when the feature is formed on the substrate. Using the method described above allows the system to account for the error in forming the feature on the substrate (placement error) which is later used to position the substrate. This is particularly beneficial as it can be used as part of a feedforward and/or feedback system to more accurately position further layers of the substrate and/or further substrates respectively. The updated position may be used for controlling a position of a substrate. This may be particularly useful for example for a step of patterning the substrate. For example, this could be used in a manufacturing process, such as a lithographic manufacturing process, of the type described in relation to Figure 1.

[0035] The method allows for the error in placing the feature 160 on the substrate 130 to be accounted for. The feature may be provided on a layer of any of the substrate 120, 130, 132, 134 shown in Figure 1. The method allows the error to be determined as part of a feedback loop or feedforward loop for positioning the layer of the substrate 130 comprising the feature 160, and/or further layers of the same substrate 130 and/or a layer of a further substrate 130. The feedback loop may use the updated position for determining an updated position for further substrates. The feedforward loop may use the updated position for exposing further layers on the same substrate, i.e. the substrate comprising the first reference feature and second reference feature. Thus, the updated position may be used as part of a feedback and/or feedforward loop. The method is beneficial even for a single layer of the substrate 130 comprising the feature 160 because the substrate 130 is more accurately positioned for exposing the layer comprising the feature 160. For each feature 160, there might be a corresponding correction for the placement error of the feature 160.

[0036] The updated position can be used as an input for the alignment model described above. In other words, when the position of a feature 160 is measured, the updated position can be used as the input for the alignment model rather than the measured position of the feature 160. In this way, the placement error is accounted for. Using the updated position means that the placement error does not impact the alignment modelling and alignment corrections during exposure of the layer of the substrate 130 and also during exposure of further layers of the substrate 130 and/or further substrate(s). Thus, the method may be a feedforward method which uses the updated position for determining placement of further layers and/or substrates.

[0037] The method is useful for determining the updated position of the feature which can be used in various ways is herein described. Most simply, the updated position of the feature 160 may be used to position a substrate 130 on the basis of the updated position of the feature 160. The substrate 130 may be a substrate 130 comprising the first layer and the second layer. The feature 160 may be positioned on the first layer or the second layer. Thus, the substrate 130 comprising the feature 160 on the first layer or the second layer, for example, may be positioned to align the first layer or the second layer of the substrate 130 respectively as desired. The method may further comprise exposing the first layer of the substrate 130 to conditioned radiation. This means that the first layer can be more accurately positioned to take into account the placement error of the feature 160 used to align the substrate 130.

[0038] Alternatively, the feature 160 may be located on another layer of the substrate 130 comprising the first layer and/or the second layer, i.e. the feature 160 may be on the same substrate 130 as the first reference feature and the second reference feature but on a different layer. Thus, the method may be used to position a further layer on the same substrate based on the placement error calculated for a feature 160 on a previous layer. Alternatively, the feature 160 may be on a layer of a different substrate i.e. the feature 160 may be on a further substrate for which no measurement of the first and second reference feature is performed. Thus, the method may be used to position a further substrate based on the placement error calculated on a previous substrate. In other words, the position of the feature may be measured on a substrate different from the substrate associated with the determined estimate of the placement error. Thus, the error estimated for one substrate can be used to update a position of a feature 160 on another substrate.

[0039] The feature 160 may be on the first or the second layer of the further substrate. Thus, the feature 160 may be placed on an equivalent layer to the first layer or the second layer, but on a different substrate. For example, the first layer may in fact be a fourth layer to be exposed on the substrate and thus, the first reference feature may be placed on the fourth layer of a substrate and the feature may be placed on the fourth layer of another substrate. Alternatively, this may apply to the second layer rather than the first layer. It will be understood that the example of the fourth layer could be replaced with any layer, including the first, second, third and so on.

[0040] The estimate of the placement error may be applied to selected features on selected layers and/or substrates. Thus, it is possible to preselect the features to which the placement error is applied. E.g. the updated position and/or estimate of the placement error could be applied during exposure of all layers of all substrates in one lot, or even several lots.

[0041] As described above, the method for determining the updated position of the feature 160 may be particularly useful because it can be used in a feedforward or feedback system to determine positioning of further layers and/or further substrates. This means that the placement error for one feature 160 (or for several features on one layer of a substrate 130) may be used to more accurately position further layers on the substrate and/or substrates. This is beneficial because it is not necessary to determine the placement error for each layer or even for each substrate. Furthermore, once the placement error has been determined, this can be used for further alignments even after the layer comprising the feature 160 has been exposed. Advantageously, this means that measurements to determine the placement error may not be required on further layers and/or substrates. Reducing the number of measurements reduces the time taken to produce semiconductor devices (i.e. fully processed substrates) which is preferable. In general, the placement error might be used for determining the placement error of further features, even if further measurements or models are used, and can still be beneficial in reducing the number of measurements and/or amount of modelling required to determine further placement errors/updated positions.

[0042] The estimate of the placement error may be determined in various different ways. As already described, the estimate is based on a knowledge of a relative position of a first reference feature referenced to a first layer on a substrate with respect to a second reference feature referenced to a second layer of the substrate. In other words, the placement error is calculated using a feature from two different layers of a substrate. As indicated above, the first layer and the second layer may be different from the layer on which the feature 160 is located. The first layer is a different layer than the second layer such that the overlay can be determined between the first layer and the second layer. The first layer and the second layer may be adjacent to each other, or may have one or more layers between them.

[0043] The first reference feature, the second reference feature and/or the feature 160 may be a grating. The features may otherwise be referred to as marks. The first reference feature and the second reference feature may be the same type of feature as each other. The first reference feature and the second reference feature may not be of the same type as the feature 160 for which the placement error is estimated. For example, the first reference feature and the second reference feature may not be used, or capable of being used, to align the substrate 130. The first reference feature and/or the second reference feature may be a feature used to measure overlay, e.g. the first reference feature and the second feature may be gratings, optionally, overlay marks or optionally product features usable to determine an overlay error. The first reference feature and/or second reference feature may be overlay marks configured to provide overlay feedback to the APC system. Additionally or alternatively, the feature 160 may be a grating, e.g. an alignment mark.

[0044] The method may comprise measuring the first reference feature and the second reference feature to determine an overlay error between the first layer and the second layer. Thus, the method may comprise directly measuring the first reference feature and the second reference feature to determine the placement error. The first reference feature and the second reference feature may be used to determine the overlay error between the first layer and the second layer. Thus, the overlay error may effectively be measured at the location of the first reference feature and the second reference feature. This could be done for example by the APC system described above. For example, results 146 relating to the measurements of the first reference feature and the second reference feature may be sent from the metrology apparatus 140 to the APC system. The method may use the measured overlay error to determine the estimate of the placement error. For example, the estimate of the placement error may be the same as the measured overlay error i.e. the estimate of the positon error and the overlay error may be one-to-one. Alternatively, the estimate of the placement error may be a function of the measured overlay error, or may comprise the measured overlay error. Processing steps may be required to determine the placement error based on the overlay error. The overlay error may not be equal to the placement error, for example, due to different sensitivities of the feature 160 and the reference feature regarding variations in process conditions and lens aberrations.

[0045] An exemplary implementation of a method in accordance with an embodiment is depicted in figure 2. In S10 the position of the feature 160 is measured. This step could be carried out before, after or at the same time as step S11. In S11, the first reference feature and the second reference feature are measured as described above. The measured first reference feature and second reference feature may be used to determine the estimate of the placement error in S12. In S13, the measured position of the feature from S10 and the estimate of the placement error from S12 may be used to calculate an updated position of the feature. As previously described, the feature may be on one of the first layer or the second layer, the feature may be on another layer of the substrate comprising the first layer and the second layer (i.e. a further layer of the same substrate), or the feature may be on a layer of a substrate not comprising the first layer and the second layer (i.e. a layer of a further substrate). Thus, the updated position of the feature 160 can be used to position any of the layers comprising the feature 160 in S14.

[0046] Alternatively, the method may further comprise modelling an overlay error between the first layer and the second layer and determining the first and second feature using the modelled overlay error. The method may comprise using an overlay model to determine the overlay error across at least a part of the substrate 130. The modelled overlay error across the substrate 130 may be used to extract the modelled position of the first feature and the second feature. The overlay error may be modelled in various different ways. For example, the method may comprise receiving context information and/or lithographic apparatus information, and using the context information and/or lithographic apparatus information to model the overlay error. The context information and/or lithographic apparatus information relates to measured and/or modelled deformation of at least one of the substrate, a mask and/or a lens. The context information and/or lithographic apparatus information may include results 146 of measurements from the metrology system 140, and/or from the lithographic apparatus LA 100. Modelling the overlay error may comprise using a predetermined value. This could be based, for example, on previous overlay data, on average overlay errors for multiple substrates or lots of substrates or average overlay errors between particular layers of substrate.

[0047] The method may use the modelled overlay error to determine the estimate of the placement error. Measurements may be taken from convenient measurement location(s) on the substrate 120. Modelling the overlay to determine the position of the first reference feature and the second feature has the further advantage that the location of the first reference feature and the second reference feature are not limited to being near the feature 160 and the first reference feature and second reference feature may be located elsewhere away from the feature 160. The method may use the modelled overlay error to determine the estimate of the placement error. For example, the estimate of the placement error may be the same as the modelled overlay error, i.e. the estimate of the position error and the overlay error may be one-to-one. Alternatively, the estimate of placement error may be a function of the modelled overlay error, or may comprise the modelled overlay error. Processing steps may be required to determine the placement error based on the overlay error.

[0048] An exemplary implementation of a method in accordance with an embodiment is depicted in figure 3. In S20 the position of the feature 160 is measured. This step could be carried out before, after or at the same time as either of the steps in S21 or S22. In S21, context information and/or lithographic apparatus information may be received as described above and this may be used to determine an overlay error in S22. Determining the overlay error may comprise calculating a model of the overlay error between a first layer and a second layer to calculate a modelled position of a first reference feature and a position of a second reference feature. The estimate of the placement error can then be determined based on the modelled positions of the first reference feature and the second reference feature in S23. In S24, the measured position of the feature from S20 and the estimate of the placement error from S23 can be used to calculate an updated position of the feature. As previously described, the feature 160 may be on one of the first layer or the second layer, the feature 160 may be on another layer of the substrate comprising the first layer and the second layer (i.e. a further layer of the same substrate), or the feature 160 may be on a layer of a substrate not comprising the first layer and the second layer (i.e. a layer of a further substrate). Thus, the updated position of the feature 160 can be used to position any of the layers comprising the feature in S25. It is noted that certain steps of Figure 3, e.g. S20, S24, S25 may be carried out in the same way as the corresponding steps of Figure 2, e.g. S10, S13 and S14 respectively.

[0049] In further detail, for each exposed lot, only a few substrates may be selected and measured on the metrology apparatus 140 to determine the error of overlay-targets on the substrate. The overlay-targets may be marks or features which are similar to the first reference feature and the second reference feature. These measurements can be input to the APC system to determine feedback overlay corrections for future exposures. Since only a few overlay-targets may be measured per lot, e.g. a few hundred, an extrapolation and/or interpolation can be used to estimate the overlay fingerprint for each field for each substrate as an input for the APC system. The extrapolation and/or interpolation from a few hundred points per substrate can be done by fitting a mathematical model over measured points. The resulting overlay fingerprint can be used to determine a modelled first reference feature position and a modelled second reference feature position for determining the feature 160.

[0050] The overlay fingerprint may be a product of the existing APC systems. The estimate of the placement error for each feature 160 can be estimated as a function of the local overlay error: f1(OverlayFingerprint(x,y)). This may provide a unique estimate of the placement error for each unique overlay fingerprint. There may be a unique overlay fingerprint per substrate table (for example, because the APC system has a particular correction loop for a particular substrate table), per lot, or per substrate depending on the overlay control method which is used to determine the overlay fingerprint. As described, the simplest function would be a multiplication by 1, where the estimate of the placement error is estimated to be the same as the overlay error. More accurate estimations of f1 can be determined by correlating overlay errors with placement errors in either experiments or simulations. The overlay fingerprint can optionally be refined by using context information and/or lithographic apparatus information, e.g. the results from f1(OverlayFingerprint(x,y)) can be refined using context information and/or information from the lithographic apparatus LA of 100 f2(Context information and/or lithographic apparatus information) The refinement can, for example, result in placement error corrections per substrate where overlay fingerprint information is only available per substrate table and/or lot. Refinement can also result in a more accurate estimate of the placement error per feature 160.

[0051] To reduce the amount of measurements needed, typically the overlay corrections can be averaged per lot or substrate table instead of per substrate. Heating of the patterning device MA and/or a lens are known to increase errors. As described, these errors can result in a placement error when forming a feature 160. Overlay measurements can be carried out on one or more substrates per lot, e.g. 4 substrates per lot. To refine the results, a function f2(Context information and/or lithographic apparatus information) can be used to extrapolate the overlay fingerprint to determine what the fingerprint is expected to be for other layers or substrates not measured. A part of this calculation can use context information and/or lithographic apparatus information referred to above, including parameters related to patterning device MA and/or lens heating. This enables determination of a unique estimate of the placement error for each feature per substrate while only 4 substrates were measured.

[0052] Alternatively, corrections can be determined per substrate, as herein described. The correlation between the placement error and the overlay fingerprint may depend on the parameters included in the context information and/or lithographic apparatus information. The context information and/or lithographic apparatus information may include, but is not limited to, substrate table and/or lens dynamics, and heating effects of the patterning device MA and/or a lens and/or a substrate. The context information and/or lithographic apparatus information can be measured (i.e. logged) or can be modelled. For example only, the feature 160 is likely to have a different design to the first reference feature and to the second reference feature. This means that the light used to image the feature may take a different path through the lens than the light used to image the first reference feature and the second reference feature. Therefore, a lens aberration may have a different effect on the feature 160 and the first and second reference features. The different effects can both be measured or simulated (i.e. modelled) for several aberrations and designs. During exposure the lens aberrations may be measured and this information can be combined with the measured/modelled context information and/or lithographic apparatus information to refine the estimate of the placement error per feature 160.

[0053] In an embodiment, a system is provided comprising a processor configured to determine a position of a feature referenced to a substrate. The processor is configured to carry out the method according to any one of the embodiments above. The processor may be configured to: measure a position of the feature, wherein the feature is configured to enable positioning of the substrate; receive an intended placement of the feature; determine an estimate of a placement error, wherein the placement error is the difference between the intended placement and an actual placement of the feature, based on knowledge of a relative position of a first feature referenced to a first layer with respect to a second feature referenced to a second layer, wherein the first layer and the second layer are on a substrate; and determine an updated position for the feature using the estimate of the placement error and the measured position of the feature. The processor may be part of, or connected to, either the automated process control (APC) system and/or the supervisory control system.

[0054] The above methods may be implemented using a computer program containing one or more sequences of machine-readable instructions describing methods of combining process model values and measurement values as described above. There may also be provided a data storage medium (e.g., semiconductor memory, magnetic or optical disk) having such a computer program stored therein.

[0055] In an embodiment, a program is provided for controlling determining a position of a feature referenced to a substrate. The program may comprise instructions for carrying out the steps of any of the methods described above. The program may comprise instructions for carrying out the steps of: measuring a position of the feature, wherein the feature is configured to enable positioning of the substrate; receiving an intended placement of the feature; determining an estimate of a placement error, wherein the placement error is the difference between the intended placement and an actual placement of the feature, based on knowledge of a relative position of a first feature referenced to a first layer with respect to a second feature referenced to a second layer, wherein the first layer and the second layer are on a substrate; and determining an updated position for the feature using the estimate of the placement error and the measured position of the feature.

[0056] The computer program may be executed for example within the control unit LACU of Figure 1, or some other controller, for example within a metrology system that includes the metrology apparatus 140, or in an advanced process control system or separate advisory tool. The program may optionally be stored in a memory which is part of or can be accessed by the automated process control (APC) system and/or the supervisory control system.

Conclusion



[0057] In conclusion, the present disclosure provides a method generating an updated position for a feature referenced to a substrate, which can be used in various different ways. This allows the error introduced when forming the feature to be reduced or negated by processing steps.

[0058] The disclosed method allows the provision of a lithographic apparatus and methods of operating a lithographic apparatus in which performance parameters such as overlay can be improved, without the need for additional measurements, or even with a reduced number of measurements. The determination of the first reference feature and the second reference feature can be performed with or without using additional context information and/or lithographic apparatus information. Throughput can be maintained and/or increased, due to the increased accuracy which substrates (including those for which no measurement data associated with the first reference feature and the second reference feature is available) can be positioned without the loss of performance that might otherwise result.

[0059] The steps of combining determining an estimate of the placement error and determining an updated position can be performed in any suitable processing apparatus, which may located anywhere in the facility of Figure 1, or may be physically remote from the facility. Steps of the method may be carried out in separate parts of the apparatus.

[0060] The updated position and/or estimated position error may be calculated in the supervisory control system of Figure 1, or in the litho tool control unit LACU. They may be calculated in a remote system and communicated to the facility afterwards. Any model and measurement data may be delivered separately to a processing apparatus which then combines them as part of calculating the estimate of the position error and/or the updated position.

[0061] The method and variations above are described as being carried out using a lithographic apparatus. However, other apparatus may be used. The patterning step of a lithographic manufacturing process is only one example where the principles of the present disclosure may be applied. Other parts of the lithographic process, and other types of manufacturing process, may also benefit from the generation of modified estimates and corrections in the manner disclosed herein.

[0062] These and other modifications and variations can be envisaged by the skilled reader from a consideration of the present disclosure. The breadth and scope of the present invention should not be limited by any of the above-described exemplary embodiments, but should be defined only in accordance with the following claims and their equivalents.


Claims

1. A method for determining a position of a feature referenced to a substrate, the method comprising:

measuring a position of the feature, wherein the feature is configured to enable positioning of the substrate;

receiving an intended placement of the feature;

determining an estimate of a placement error, wherein the placement error is the difference between the intended placement and an actual placement of the feature, based on knowledge of a relative position of a first reference feature referenced to a first layer with respect to a second reference feature referenced to a second layer, wherein the first layer and the second layer are on a substrate; and

determining an updated position for the feature using the estimate of the placement error and the measured position of the feature.


 
2. The method of claim 1, further comprising positioning a substrate on the basis of the updated position of the feature.
 
3. The method of claim 2 further comprising a step of exposing the substrate to a radiation beam.
 
4. The method of claim 2 or 3, wherein the method is carried out using a lithographic apparatus.
 
5. The method of any of the preceding claims, wherein the feature is on the first layer or on the second layer.
 
6. The method of any of the preceding claims, wherein the feature is on a layer of a substrate having the first layer and the second layer, and the feature is on a different layer than the first layer and the second layer.
 
7. The method of any of the preceding claims, wherein the position of the feature is measured on a substrate different from the substrate associated with the determined estimate of the placement error.
 
8. The method of any of the preceding claims, wherein the method further comprises measuring the position of a first reference feature relative to the position of a second reference feature to determine an overlay error and using the overlay error to determine the estimate of the placement error.
 
9. The method of any of the preceding claims, wherein the method further comprises modelling an overlay error between the first layer and the second layer to determine the position of the first reference feature relative to the position of the second reference feature.
 
10. The method of claim 9, further comprising receiving context information and/or lithographic apparatus information, and using the context information and/or lithographic apparatus information to model the overlay error, wherein the context information and/or lithographic apparatus relates to measured and/or modelled deformation of at least one of the substrate, a patterning device and/or a projection system.
 
11. The method of claim 9 or 10, wherein modelling the overlay error comprises using a predetermined value based on overlay data.
 
12. The method of any one of claims 8 to 11, wherein the estimate of the placement error is determined to be the same as the overlay error.
 
13. The method of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the feature is a grating and/or an alignment mark.
 
14. A system comprising a processor configured to determine a position of a feature referenced to a substrate, the processor being configured to:

measure a position of the feature, wherein the feature is configured to enable positioning of the substrate;

receive an intended placement of the feature;

determine an estimate of a placement error, wherein the placement error is the difference between the intended placement and an actual placement of the feature, based on knowledge of a relative position of a first reference feature referenced to a first layer with respect to a second reference feature referenced to a second layer, wherein the first layer and the second layer are on a substrate; and

determine an updated position for the feature using the estimate of the placement error and the measured position of the feature.


 
15. A program for controlling determining a position of a feature referenced to a substrate, the program comprising instructions for carrying out the steps of:

measuring a position of the feature, wherein the feature is configured to enable positioning of the substrate;

receiving an intended placement of the feature;

determining an estimate of a placement error, wherein the placement error is the difference between the intended placement and an actual placement of the feature, based on knowledge of a relative position of a first reference feature referenced to a first layer with respect to a second reference feature referenced to a second layer, wherein the first layer and the second layer are on a substrate; and

determining an updated position for the feature using the estimate of the placement error and the measured position of the feature.


 




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