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6-Inch Wafer Inspection Microscope for Reliably Observing Small Height Differences

How the electronics and semiconductor industry can benefit from automated and reproducible DIC microscopy for semiconductor-component inspection

Region of a patterned wafer inspected using optical microscopy and automated and reproducible DIC (differential interference contrast). With DIC users are able to visualize small height differences on the wafer surface more easily. Patterned_wafer_inspected_by_automated_and_reproducible_DIC.jpg

A 6-inch wafer inspection microscope with automated and reproducible DIC (differential interference contrast) imaging, no matter the skill level of users, is described in this article. Manufacturing of integrated-circuit (IC) chips and semiconductor components requires wafer inspection to verify no defects are present which affect performance. The inspection is often done with optical microscopy for QC, failure analysis, and R&D. To visualize efficiently small height differences between structures on wafers, DIC can be used.

Identifying and reducing defects during wafer and semiconductor production, quality control (QC), failure analysis, and research and development (R&D) is critical in terms of component performance. For efficient and reliable wafer inspection with optical microscopy, different contrast methods should be exploited. One important contrast method is differential interference contrast (DIC).

With DIC, height differences on wafers and semiconductors are more easily noticeable compared to other contrast methods like brightfield or darkfield.

This article explains how automated and reproducible DIC allows users to efficiently visualize small height differences on 6-inch wafers leading to efficient inspection workflows, higher throughput, and improved component quality. For most cases when DIC is used, the microscope illumination and contrast settings must be adjusted manually, meaning results depend greatly on the user’s level of experience. However, with automated DIC operation, even less experienced users can perform readily reproducible DIC imaging. By pushing a button, the appropriate DIC prism is chosen and adjusted.

By taking advantage of automated and reliable DIC, users can meet their specific needs for rapid and reliable inspection, QC, failure analysis, and R&D of wafers and semiconductor materials with Leica microscopes like the DM6 M or DMi8 M.

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