In response to the metrology needs to be performed more and more on devices with realistic dimensions and on wafer scale, novel metrology approaches have been developed and implemented as emerging metrology concepts by several equipment manufacturers. Whereas in various cases convincing results have been obtained with prototype tools on limited case studies, hard specifications and rigid testing in the field with exposure to a wide variety of problems have not yet been possible. Among the barriers to achieve a full commercialization of these tools is the lack of adequate documentation on their performance when applied to a wide range of technological problems. In particular to demonstrate the technology readiness level (TRL) of these concepts one needs access to properly characterized devices with relevant dimensions and properties which is frequently beyond the capabilities of many (small) equipment manufacturers. If they have access, reporting of the results is often restricted by confidentiality clauses from the sample suppliers.

Within the foodchain of equipment delivery for the semiconductor industry, Europe has kept a very strong position in the metrology area with many companies: Cameca, CAPRES, Jordan Valley, Oxford Instruments, Bruker, Tepla, FEI, Tescan, ION-TOF ..., establishing themselves as main leaders in the field. Many of these companies are SME’s which, although demonstrating a high degree of innovation and technological excellence, experience substantial difficulties to penetrate the semiconductor market due to a lack of data supporting their claims on tool reliability, performance, throughput and Cost Of Ownership (COO) . 

In line with the objective of the ICT25 call for innovation action to overcome these (initial) barriers for the successful commercialization of novel European products, the objective of this project is to assess for a number of different metrology solutions from EU-based (including 2 SME’s) companies their technological readiness, reliability and relevance of the developed protocols, and the COO by exposing them to the state of the art technology and challenges.

 

The strength of this project is that although investigated tools probe different properties, they do provide highly complementary information (composition versus electrical properties, contamination versus voiding, defectivity versus electrical performance) such that their integration and co-existence in this project create a substantial added value beyond the simple tool assessment(Figure 1). Therefore the project will also explore the implementation of a concurrent methodologyand documenting the strategy, validity and added value of combining these concepts.

 

Conceptually this project is based on a unique balance between (i) the creation of innovative products by the equipment manufacturers, (ii) the documentation and broadening of their application space through the detailed fundamental support by academia and research institutes, and (iii) the performance assessment of the instruments and pre-commercial evaluation for manufacturing applications through prospective industrial end users.

 

Through this concept, the Metro4-3D project will contribute to reach the following (long term) objectives: 

1) Create early insight for industrial end-users in advanced metrology by providing access to emerging metrology concepts; 

2) Provide opportunity for equipment manufacturers to optimize their end product through the interaction with end users and the earnings from item 1);

3) Maintain a healthy EU-industrial base (and employment) by creating opportunities for EU-SME’s to align their innovative products with industrial needs;

4) Provide opportunity for EU-SME’s to document their product performance through assessment on next generation devices and technologies which are normally
not accessible for them;

5) Provide to academia researchers access to novel instrumentation and concepts;

6) Enable innovative excellence of EU-products by the creation of a platform for interaction between equipment manufacturers and high level experts in academia and research institutes;

7) Create a workforce within EU trained with the correct skills, competences and metrology expertise required for industry;

8) Demonstrate to end users the increased return on investment, when implementing these metrology tools in manufacturing, through the added value of the “concurrent metrology” concept.