|These three-dimensional tri-gate (FinFET) transistors are among the 3-D microchip structures that could be measured using through-focus scanning optical microscopy (TSOM) - Courtesy, Intel Corporation|
Contact: Chad Boutin
A technique developed several years ago at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for improving optical microscopes now has been applied to monitoring the next generation of computer chip circuit components, potentially providing the semiconductor industry with a crucial tool for improving chips for the next decade or more.
The technique, called Through-Focus Scanning Optical Microscopy (TSOM), has now been shown able to detect tiny differences in the three-dimensional shapes of circuit components, which until very recently have been essentially two-dimensional objects. TSOM is sensitive to features that are as small as 10 nanometers (nm) across, perhaps smaller—addressing some important industry measurement challenges for the near future for manufacturing process control and helping maintain the viability of optical microscopy in electronics manufacturing.
Microscopy Technique Could Help Computer Industry Develop 3-D Components