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

Ensuring defect-free photomasks

With ZEISS AIMS systems

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

Defect review, printability analysis and repair verification

ZEISS offers solutions to ensure a defect free printing performance of photomasks for 248 nm, 193 nm 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


    Platform for actinic EUV measurements provides full emulation

    ZEISS opens up a new era of actinic mask qualification with the new generation of AIMS® EUV.

    • Provides full emulation of the scanner imaging conditions for the NXE:3xy0 scanner systems, with extension capability to next generation EXE:5000 high-NA scanner systems.
    • With its high precision stage for defect location accuracy and the employment of an EUV plasma source, AIMS® EUV meets the industry production requirements for manufacturing defect-free EUV photomasks.
  • AIMS® 1x-193i

    Ensures perfect printing performance for high-end masks

    ZEISS AIMS 1x-193i is used for defect review, printability analysis and repair verification and qualifies photomasks with high precision and accuracy for today technology nodes.

    • Addresses the challenges of increased feature complexity, tighter mask specifications and more accurate and reliable defect disposition.
    • Offers an excellent CD repeatability and full illumination flexibility utilizing FlexIllu®, a computer controlled illumination and key enabler for SMO technology.
    • Offers future performance upgrades to enhance the system capability with respect to CD repeatability and throughput to keep with ongoing technology demands.
    • Supports additional applications such as AIMS® AutoAnalysis for fully automated and reliable analysis of aerial images and WLCD 2G for a printing aware mask CD metrology.
  • AIMS® 32-193i SE

    Enhanced flexibility for defect qualification of 193nm mature masks

    ZEISS AIMS 32-193i SE is dedicated to 193 nm mature products which require a considerable flexibility for defect verification but facing the challenge of cost effectiveness.

    • Sits on a proven and robust measurement platform.
    • Provides an enhanced illumination flexibility by realization of a two slider solution offering a high variety of conventional illumination schemes.
    • Offers FreeForm Illumination (FFI) capability realizing more complex illumination shapes to support SMO requirements.
    • Provides increased throughput for high productivity and low NA option allowing for multi-tool replacement.
  • AIMS® fab neo

    Equipped with state-of-the art components for 248nm defect qualification

    ZEISS AIMS fab neo provides the capability to perform defect and repair verification for 248 nm photomasks at high productivity.

    • Equipped with state-of-the-art technology the system is of choice when simplification and cost effectiveness are the main challenges.
    • 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.
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 193 nm 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’ 193 nm and 248nm AIMS systems.


Feel free to contact us

Form is loading...

For further information on data processing at ZEISS please refer to our  data privacy notice.

Optional information