The MA8 Gen5 represents the latest generation of SUSS MicroTec’s semi-automated mask and bond aligner. The new platform introduces improved imprint processing features for standard, advanced and high-end processes.
The MA8 Gen5 offers an enhanced ergonomic and user-friendly design, cost efficiency and a reduced footprint, and is the perfect tool for use in research and mid- to large-scale production.
SUSS MicroTec’s MA8 Gen5 is setting a new benchmark in full-field lithography for MEMS & NEMS, 3D integration and compound semiconductor markets, especially for a large variety of imprint applications in the field of LED, MEMS/NEMS, micro-optics, augmented reality and opto-electronic sensors using the renowned SMILE technology. It is also able to handle processes such as bond alignment and fusion bonding.
Enhanced SUSS leveling system
One tool covering micro- to nano imprinting
Outstanding process results
Low cost of ownership
Small footprint and enhanced ergonomics
The high degree of automation of the MA8 Gen5 enables outstanding process results. Functions such as constant dose mode, an automated control unit for exposure time and auto-alignment all help optimize process parameters. Additionally, equipped with the high-grade MO Exposure Optics system, the MA8 Gen5 provides ideal exposure conditions and thus achieves top-class results. Sophisticated mechanical workings ensure high adjustment precision: the particular design of the top- and bottom-side microscope unit (TSA and BSA) eliminates long travel for the TSA microscope, as well as the disturbing vibrations. It supports several imprint processes for micro- and nanostructures. With only a little adjustment, it allows wafer-to-wafer alignment, as well as easy fusion bonding.
Functions such as a highly intuitive recipe editor, sophisticated data logging and the ability to assign user rights simplify the user’s work and simultaneously minimize the need for operator intervention. The MA Gen5 platform also makes use of high-grade digital microscopes and cameras, which significantly simplify the alignment process thanks to enhanced image quality and an extended field of view on the monitor.
The MA8 Gen5 is equipped with an energy-efficient LED light source and sophisticated exposure optics for all lithography processes. In addition, a dedicated UV-LED flood exposure unit is available for imprint applications. The UV-LED light source not only reduces operating and maintenance costs, but improves work safety and environmental protection as well. This eliminates the expensive and hazardous waste disposal of mercury lamps. The machine offers further security features, such as UV radiation protection, safety interlocks and trap protection, thus fulfilling strict safety requirements. Optionally, configuration with a mercury light source is possible as well.
With its compact design, the MA8 Gen5 offers a wide variety of processes despite a reduced footprint, which is a major factor in the attractive cost of ownership, saving costly cleanroom space. Maintenance effort is reduced by the accessibility of the operating elements and exchangeable parts, as well as use of the LED light source and the renowned SUSS MO Exposure Optics. In the event of an error or failure, the machine can be accessed by SUSS MicroTec service staff remotely, so that the issue can be resolved in a quick and cost-effective manner.
Top-Side Alignment (TSA)
Where lithographic processes require the alignment of structures on only one side of the device wafer (e.g. RDL, micro-bumping and similar techniques), top-side alignment is used to align the fiducials on the mask with those of the wafer. Depending on the substrate properties, this can be achieved either using stored position data for the wafer or through live image alignment, as with the DirectAlign® system invented by SUSS MicroTec.
Bottom-side Alignment (BSA)
Alignment of the structuring on the wafer back side with the structures on the front is required in processes in the field of MEMS, wafer-level packaging, 3D integration and imprint applications. Optical bottom-side alignment is normally used for this type of alignment. An integrated camera system detects the mask or stamp structures and the structures on the substrate back side, and aligns them with each other. The substrate position must be determined and stored prior to loading, since the substrate subsequently covers the mask target. This places specialized demands on the alignment system as a whole.
• With its outstanding level of mechanical precision and stability, the SUSS mask aligner offers unmatched accuracy
Multilayer wafer stacks are used in a number of structuring processes. The alignment marks that are normally embedded between the layers can be identified and aligned via infrared (IR) illumination. This requires the use of materials that are transparent for IR light, such as undoped silicon, III-V semiconductors (e.g. GaAs) and adhesives for temporary bonding and debonding techniques.
The SUSS equipment can be optionally equipped with powerful IR light sources and high-performance camera systems, ensuring optimal IR availability.
Enhancing Alignment Precision
When stringent demands are made of overlay accuracy, the auto-alignment functionality of the standard system can be considerably extended. DirectAlign®, the SUSS MicroTec enhanced functionality for structure detection software, uses live images instead of patterns from an image memory system. The technology is based on the PatMax industry standard and achieves outstanding results. With the use of DirectAlign® on a SUSS mask aligner, an accuracy of 0.25 µm can be achieved.
The use of enhanced alignment is recommended for challenging alignment processes with structures that are easily confused or restricted fields of view.
A mask with a certain structure is aligned with the wafer in very close proximity (thus “proximity” lithography). During exposure, the shadow cast by the mask structure is transferred to the wafer. The resulting exposure quality depends on both the precision with which the mask and wafer are spaced apart and the optical system used for exposure.
Being fast and suited to flexible implementation, this method is regarded as the most cost-effective technique for producing microstructures down to 3 µm in size. With contact exposure, resolutions in the sub-micron range can be achieved. Typical areas of use include wafer-level chip-scale packaging, flip chip packaging, bumping, MEMS, LED and power devices. The systems are deployed in high-volume production, as well as in industrial research.
The mask aligners supplied by SUSS MicroTec are based on proximity lithography.
The lower the exposure gap from mask to wafer, the higher the resolution. In soft contact mode, the wafer is brought into contact with the mask and is fixed onto the chuck with vacuum.
In hard contact mode, the wafer is brought into direct contact with the mask, while positive nitrogen pressure is used to press the substrate against the mask. A resolution in the 1 micron range is possible in hard contact mode.
Diffraction-reducing exposure optics are designed to compensate for diffraction effects in both contact and proximity lithography. Instead of using a plane wave as in other proximity lithography tools, it provides an angular spectrum of planar light waves to reduce diffraction effects. The selection of a proper angular spectrum improves structure resolution in the resist.
MO Exposure Optics® is a unique illumination optics system specifically designed for SUSS mask aligners. It is based on microlens plates instead of macroscopic lens assemblies. A simple plug and play changeover allows a quick and easy changeover between different angular settings, including the functionality of both classical SUSS HR (High Resolution) and LGO (Large-Gap Optics) illumination optics.
The telecentric illumination provided by MO Exposure Optics improves light uniformity and leads to a larger process window. Yield enhancements are produced as a result. MO Exposure Optics also decouples the exposure light from the lamp source, so small misalignments of the lamp do not affect light uniformity. A decoupled light source saves setup and maintenance time and guarantees uniform illumination conditions during the entire lifetime of the lamp.
The MA8 Gen5 mask aligner is equipped with the SUSS Leveling System that allows reaching the parallelism between substrate and mask with a micrometric precision.
Semi-Automated Mask Aligner
Auto-alignment is based on a motorized alignment stage. The COGNEX® based pattern recognition software automatically recognizes wafer target locations and controls the movement of the alignment stage. Coupled with SUSS MicroTec‘s DirectAlign®, accuracy to 0.25 μm (0.5 µm for production tools) can be achieved. Auto-alignment enables highest repeatability of process results coupled with optimized throughput and minimum operator intervention.
Innovative light source
The new lamp house concept from SUSS MicroTec convinces with efficiency — UV-LED light sources reach many times the service life of conventional mercury vapor lamps. Moreover, they no longer need to warm up and cool down — the LED is only switched on during exposure. These factors significantly contribute to comparatively low energy consumption. In contrast with mercury vapor lamps, no cumbersome disposal of hazardous waste is required.
The SUSS UV-LED lamp house features the latest in technology and therefore meets the growing demand for environmental sustainability and energy efficiency.
The use of an LED lamp house significantly affects the operating costs of a mask aligner. The service life of an LED exceeds that of conventional lamps many times over, thereby lowering costs generated by changing lamps. Downtimes, the acquisition of new lamps, adjustments and the disposal of old material have all become a thing of the past.
Guaranteed process flexibility
Compared to conventional mercury vapor lamps, LED light sources not only work more efficiently but are also much more flexible to use. The UV-LED lamp house generally covers the same spectral region as mercury vapor lamps. The difference is that the UV-LED can switch specific wavelengths on and off. This eliminates the need to optically filter the light outside of the lamp house. Wavelengths are regulated via a programmed recipe which fulfills specific process requirements without filter change or recalibration.
When interacting with SUSS MicroTec's special MO Exposure Optics, the LED lamp house provides for maximum flexibility in process design.
Working with the LED lamp house is both safe and environmentally sound, and is a major step forward in health and occupational safety, as well as environmental protection.
Simulation of lithographic processes
A simulation of lithographic processes makes the selection of optimal settings for process parameters possible without long-winded trial and error sessions. The multi-functional simulation software of lithographic processes “Lab”, which SUSS MicroTec distributes together with the supplier, GenISys, first and foremost allows the operator better process control. It offers all the required simulation functionality for an integrated design and process development, as well as verification and optimization. At the same time it covers all the process steps from illumination shaping and mask layout optimization up to photo resist processing. Additionally, modern 3D simulation functions improve the model visualizations.
The combination of MO Exposure Optics and the for SUSS optics custom-developed optical models in Lab facilitates customer-specific design optimization of the exposure filter plates, which in turn leads to an improvement in pattern fidelity.
Customer Specific Illumination Shaping and Mask Layouts
Combining optimization of mask layouts and the light source (source mask optimization), a procedure from projection lithography, makes it possible to reduce pattern inaccuracies due to illumination errors, processing artifacts and diffraction. A combined selection to match the exposure filter plates with the mask patterns (OPC = optical proximity correction) to customer specific requirements allows considerable expansion of the lithographic process functionality.
A simulation platform permits modeling of process parameters such as mask patterns and illumination parameters. This facilitates the exposure and mask patterns to be set for specific production situations with a reduced experimental effort, and reduces illumination and process errors.
Source mask optimization, together with SUSS MicroTecs customizable MO Exposure Optics® form an important contribution to improvement of process stability in mask aligner lithography.
Imprint lithography represents a cost-effective and highly reliable means of transferring three-dimensional nano- or micro-scale patterns onto a wide variety of substrates.
For the imprint, a stamp is brought into contact with a photosensitive material on the substrate. The photoresist fills out the three-dimensional pattern of the stamp and then solidifies under UV light. Parameters such as pattern topography, structure resolution and aspect ratio have a considerable influence on the process quality.
Thanks to its compatibility with well-established semiconductor processes, imprint lithography plays a key role in the development and production of devices in the field of LED, MEMS/NEMS, micro-optics, augmented reality and opto-electronic sensors using the renowned SMILE technology.
SUSS MicroTec solutions for imprint lithography are based on manual mask aligner platforms and support a wide range of materials and substrate with sizes up to 200 mm. Furthermore, SUSS platforms provide the capability to align and level stamps to substrates, as required by many imprint applications. Imprint equipment can also be retrofitted to SUSS mask aligners which are already in the field.
Micro- and Nano-Imprinting
For the transfer of patterns in the micro- to nanometer range, SUSS MicroTec offers SMILE (SUSS MicroTec imprint lithography equipment) technology.
There are two process variants, the use of which depends on the desired resolution.
The process allows very precise exposure of both micro- and nano-patterns, thereby offering a wide spectrum of potential applications and thus excellent process flexibility. For example, SMILE is used in the production of many booming applications such as augmented reality, automotive applications and much more.
Stamps for Nano- and Micro-Imprint Processes
SUSS MicroTec’s UV-SFT8 stamp fabrication tool represents a table-top solution for manufacturing high-quality composite working stamps for imprinting, accompanied by a UV-LED unit. The stamps are used for a wide variety of imprint applications in the field of LED, MEMS/NEMS, micro-optics, augmented reality and opto-electronic sensors.
The traditional method of stamp production is based on thermal curing. This method can require curing times of up to several hours. In order to accelerate the production process and increase throughput, new stamping materials have been developed which can be cured using UV light. With this new procedure, it is possible to reduce the manufacturing time of the stamps to only a few minutes.
With its high UV-light uniformity of ± 2.5 %, the system yields homogeneously cured stamps, and in turn high structure fidelity. The tool offers great flexibility due to its compatibility with a wide variety of UV curable stamp materials, which allows integration into various applications from R&D to HVM.
An optional system for puddle dispense is available for the radially symmetrical propagation of the stamp material. In addition, the dispensing system allows the application of a controllable amount, saving material and reducing waste. The tool is field upgradable from conventional thermal systems to UV-LED.
Fusion bonding refers to the spontaneous adhesion of two planar substrates with a dielectric material (typically silicon oxide) as the bonding layer. The process usually involves a proper surface activation that renders the substrates largely hydrophilic. Subsequently, the substrates are aligned, brought into contact and finally tempered at elevated temperature.