Electrical characterization

What efforts are being made to improve resolution and sensitivity for conventional image-based techniques and point-based probing techniques?

What efforts are being made to improve resolution and sensitivity for conventional image-based techniques and point-based probing techniques?

[First probing solution in 2003 with 4 MM3A] When Kleindiek developed its first dedicated probing solution in 2009, the design goals were improved flexibility, precision, and stability. These objectives were met by miniaturizing the manipulators and integrating them onto a shuttle platform. In 2013, the development of the PS8 shuttle increased the number of probes from four to eight and added unibody architecture with active milli-Kelvin temperature stabilization. The result was an ultra-stable nano probing platform that continues to outrun scaling requirements. Today, our customers use the PS8 shuttle for probing N5 devices in R&D labs.

In addition to anticipating long-term requirements during product development, Kleindiek also continuously improves the performance of existing products. Earlier this year, we released the 6th iteration of our NanoControl precision controller with increased A/D bit count for deep sub-nm precision — even for the most challenging probing geometries. Similarly, we upgraded our fault isolation solution with calibration-free quantitative current imaging and a dedicated voltage amplifier. The new electron-beam induced voltage (EBIV) mode can detect voltage drops smaller than 1 µV (3 Ohm detection limit) and surpasses EBIRCH in its ability to locate low-Ohmic faults.

As an independent provider of probing solutions, we enable our customers to benefit from advancements in imaging technology by providing platform flexibility and decoupling of hardware upgrade cycles. However, we also collaborate with microscope manufacturers to provide deep software integration and ensure that our probers support the latest trends in imaging requirements, e.g., shorter WD and lower kV.

What efforts are being made to qualify your system/technique performance for "real world" nano probing requirements? - especially for future nodes?

What efforts are being made to qualify your system/technique performance for "real world" nano probing requirements? - especially for future nodes?

At Kleindiek, 20% of our R&D resources work on "real world" application development. Here, we collaborate closely with leading semiconductor manufacturers, foundries, and research institutes. These collaborations enable us to validate our capabilities on future nodes and emerging technologies. We hold periodic technology review meetings to solicit the feedback of key customers on our tool performance and development roadmap. In addition, we invest in state-of-the-art imaging equipment, and our in-house production capabilities enable rapid iterations — resulting in a typical time-to-market shorter than six months.

Lastly, we take a holistic approach to improving our technology that addresses the full spectrum of real-world challenges, as is evident e.g. from 2020's list of new & updated products:

  • Automation — Positional encoder upgrade for PS8 platform enabling level 3 automation for
    • Increased throughput
    • Reduced human interaction time
    • Improved ease-of-use
  • Sample size and complexity
    • Encoded large sample probing solution
    • Software support for up to 12 probes
  • Contamination
    • In-situ sample conditioning
    • Tip cleaning & automated tip exchange
  • In-situ experiments
    • Heating & cooling
    • Temperature control for simulating real-world stressors
    • Vibration-free cooling & heating -60ºC – +450ºC (-20ºC – +200ºC for prober shuttle)
  • Heating & illumination workstation
    • Controlled sample heating and illumination to study electro-optical components

How much effort is placed on investigating potentially disruptive technologies compared to exploring incremental improvements in the state-of-the-art?

How much effort is placed on investigating potentially disruptive technologies compared to exploring incremental improvements in the state-of-the-art?

Supported by our network of academic and industry partners, we spend significant effort on the exploration and development of novel technologies. For example, we developed a contact current imaging technique that brings AFM-like capability into our nano probers to overcome the limitation of SEM imaging. And, we enable potentially disruptive technologies by adapting our probing technology to new environments. One example is the integration of probers with various focused ion beam system to combine probing with planar delayering or circuit edit. Another example is the adaptation to UHV and cryogenic environments for the characterization of pristine surfaces and probing of devices for quantum computing.