An employee working on the qualification tool in the ZEISS SMT clean room
Photomask Disposition and Verification

Ensuring defect-free photomasks

With Mask Qualification

It is crucial to qualify all photomasks regarding defects, understand their impact on the printing performance of the mask and eliminate them before the mask is used in a stepper or scanner. AIMS® is the only system which qualifies the photomask under scanner equivalent conditions covering all lithography techniques including Double Patterning, Source Mask Optimization (SMO) and Inverse Lithography.

  • Scanner-like imaging conditions
  • Comprehensive performance upgrades
  • Tailored to your needs
  • Application Image of a qualified photomask
  • Application Image of a qualified photomask
  • Application Image of a qualified photomask
  • Application Image of a qualified photomask
  • Application Image of a qualified photomask
  • Application Image of a qualified photomask
  • Application Image of a qualified photomask
  • Application Image of a qualified photomask

Defect review, printability analysis and repair verification

ZEISS offers mask qualification solutions to ensure a defect free printing performance of photomasks for 248nm, 193nm and EUV lithography. 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

An emoloyee holding a photomask in his hands in the ZEISS SMT clean room

Scanner-equivalent illumination conditions

AIMS® works under the same optical conditions as the scanner and enables to qualify the printing performance of the photomask already in the Mask Shop. The technology addresses the challenges of increased complexity, tighter mask specifications and more accurate and reliable defect disposition. Along the tool generations more complex illumination schemes have been required resulting in FlexIllu®, a computer controlled illumination, for ZEISS’ DUV high-end system which is a key enabler for SMO technologies.  Furthermore, the systems account for all optical effects including vector effects and 3D mask effects which is of utmost importance to qualify the printing behavior of a photomask.
The AIMS® 1x-193i is equipped with the LITO™ grade optics which provides aberration correction for the latest scanner technology and together with the enhanced pupil uniformity it contributes to an excellent scanner and tool to tool matching.

Photomask loading in the ZEISS qualification tool

Comprehensive performance upgrades

The latest generation ZEISS AIMS 1x-193i can be enhanced by comprehensive performance upgrades to boost the system capabilities with respect to CD repeatability and throughput to keep with ongoing technology demands. For AIMS® EUV, ZEISS offers platform extensions such as Digital Flex Illu, Phase Metrology and HiNA Upgrade to support our customers with the ongoing technology needs. On top of that, latest automation features such as AIMS® AutoAnalysis can significantly increase the productivity and reliability.

Photomask in the ZEISS qualification tool AIMS 1x

Tailored to your needs

ZEISS offers a broad spectrum of tool generations tailored to your needs. The systems are optimized for different illumination wavelength and applications and target specific market needs. ZEISS EUV and 193nm high-end AIMS systems fulfill the requirements of the high end market driven by high feature complexity, complex illumination schemes and steadily tightening of defect and mask specification. The mature market requires robust processes, high productivity and cost effective solutions. These requirements are addressed with ZEISS’ 193nm and 248nm AIMS systems.


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