20 Years of AIMS Technology

Happy Birthday


The ZEISS AIMS technology for analysing defects and verifying repairs on photomasks celebrates its 20th birthday.

ZEISS has been providing and continuously developing its Aerial Image Measurement System (AIMS™) to the semiconductor industry for more than 20 years now. However, when the system was first introduced, it was known as a Microlithography Simulation Microscope (MSM) in reference to the origin of the technology – microscopes. The MSM was developed in 1993 in cooperation with IBM which needed a specially modified microscope to analyze, in particular, the new phase-shifting masks. On the basis of a ZEISS Axiotron microscope, the two companies then conceived the first system to analyze and evaluate the impact of mask defects on wafers.

The systems have gone by the name AIMS™ since 2000. The special design of the optics allows AIMS™ to record images of the mask under the equivalent optical settings in the scanner and emulate the aerial image. This enables the system to reliably assess the impact mask defects have on the wafer during the lithography process and thus on the functionality of the chips being produced.

The system has transformed from a 'simple' microscope to a highly advanced, fully automated measuring system emulating all kinds of 193 nm scanners. And even an EUV based system is upcoming, which is impressively underscored in the current AIMS™ EUV project. The industry has signaled that AIMS™ is essential for the coming generation that operates with EUV lithography.

AIMS™ History

AIMS contact holes


IBM develops Aerial Image Measurement Software


Market launch of MSM 100 by ZEISS (365/248 nm wavelength)

MSM 193


Market launch of the MSM 193 (193 nm wavelength)


First fab tool – AIMS™ fab (248 nm wavelength)


First fab tool with automatic handling system – AIMS™ fab plus

AIMS™ 45-193i


AIMS™ 45-193i introduced

AIMS™ 32-193i


AIMS™ 32-193i launched

AIMS™ 1x-193i


AIMS™ 1x-193i with FlexIllu® introduced



AIMS™ EUV to come

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