Preventing defects with photomask inspection

with ZEISS AIMS systems

It is crucial to inspect all masks for defects, understand their impact on the photolithography process, and eliminate them before the mask is used in a stepper or scanner. The AIMS™ system is the only scanner emulator covering all lithography techniques including Double Patterning, Source Mask Optimization (SMO) and Inverse Lithography.

Defect review, printability analysis and repair verification

ZEISS offers solution for defect-free printing performance for 248 nm, 193 nm and EUV. The systems precisely qualify photomasks according to the printing behavior. The first ZEISS AIMS machine was introduced in 1993. Today the systems are an integral part of the mask manufacturing process and guarantee the delivery of defect free masks to wafer fabs. 

Down below you find the variety of the innovative AIMS™ systems:

Scientific Papers

publications from ZEISS authors

AIMS™ 1x-193i

For further extension of 193 nm lithography down to 1x nodes

ZEISS AIMS 1x-193i is used for defect review, printability analysis and repair verification and qualifies your photomasks with high precision and accuracy for todays and future technology nodes. ZEISS AIMS 1x-193i enables the user to qualify the optical performance of a mask under scanner equivalent illumination conditions. Thanks to the advances in the optical design as well as major improvements in the software the ZEISS AIMS 1x-193i achieves significantly reduced turnaround-times. The enhanced pupil uniformity realizes best scanner and tool-to-tool matching.

AIMS™ fab neo Newly designed for 248 nm lithography

AIMS™ fab neo provides the capability to perform defect and repair verification for 248 nm photomasks. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology the system is of choice when simplification and cost effectiveness are the main challenges. ZEISS AIMS fab neo offers a completely new design. The beam path is improved ensuring a high reliability and enhanced serviceability. The illumination unit is equipped with an exchangeable slider which allows a predefinition of up to 21 user definable sigma apertures. This ensures an easy switch of illumination schemes during operation.

AIMS™ 32-193i SE Enhanced flexibility of 193 nm mature products.

ZEISS AIMS 32-193 SE is dedicated to 193 nm mature products which require a considerable flexibility for defect verification but facing the challenge of cost effectiveness. It sits on a proven and robust measurement platform. The system provides a high illumination flexibility and is equipped with a two slider solution-combination of illumination shapes. Furthermore it provides the FreeForm Illumination (FFI) capability realizing more complex illumination shapes to support SMO requirements.


For actinic EUV measurements

ZEISS AIMS EUV actinic system for review of EUV photomasks provides full emulation of the scanner imaging conditions for the NXE:33X0 EUV systems, with extension capability to NXE:34X0 generation systems. This emulation is achieved via an integrated chief ray angle rotation performed by a synchronous mechanical movement of the sigma and NA apertures. AIMS™ EUV meets the industry production requirements with a high precision stage for defect location accuracy. It is optimally designed by the employment of an EUV plasma source.

Digital Products Running on the computational engine FAVOR®

ZEISS offers several automation applications running on the FAVOR® platform. The computational engine enables productivity and reliability enhancement through intelligent automation. 

AIMS™ AutoAnalysis (AAA)

AIMS™ AutoAnalysis runs independently from tool software, allowing the AIMS™ tools to be dedicated for measurements only while the analysis runs in parallel. It optimizes processes as it improves productivity, saves operator time and standardizes results.

AIMS™ AutoAnalysis EUV (AAA EUV)

AIMS™ AutoAnalysis EUV (AAAEUV) extends the automated defect verification to the segment of high-end EUV mask manufacturing. Parallel processing allows for high throughput and sophisticated analysis algorithms for evaluation of even the smallest EUV structures. Extended standardization, realized by a recipe and template based approach, also enables to run DUV processes identically for EUV mask making. Significant time savings are achieved by analyzing data in parallel to running measurements. By taking out the human factor reliability is improved and operator to operator variations are eliminated.

Advanced Repair Center (ARC)

The Advanced Repair Center ARC is capable of connecting tools and software products in a smart way. It is a back end of line manufacturing enterprise solution that targets productivity, costs saving and shorter turnaround time through the use of intelligent automation. Built on the connectivity provided it facilitates data management and process flow optimization for the entire defect handling process. That significantly reduces the required amount manual interactions and makes processes less prone to human errors resulting in increased reliability.


Title page of product brochure

pages: 6
file size: 3,899 kB

Subscribe to our photomask newsletter.


Meet us at global conferences and meetings.


For further questions and suggestions.