Removal of particles from lithographic masks through plasma assisted cleaning by metastable atomic neutralization

W. M. Lytle, D. S. Szybilski, C. E. Das, R. Raju, V. Surla, M. J. Neumann, David N Ruzic

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


For extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) to become a high volume manufacturing technology for integrated circuit manufacturing, the cleanliness of the system, especially the photomask, is of high importance. For EUV photomasks, which cannot be protected from contamination by the use of a pellicle, an effective and quick cleaning technology needs to be ready in order to maintain wafer throughput. There are challenges to extend current wet cleaning technologies to meet the future needs for damage-free and high efficiency mask cleaning. Accordingly, a unique process for cleaning particulates from surfaces, specifically photomasks as well as wafers, has been evaluated at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The removal technique utilizes a high density plasma source as well as pulsed substrate biases to provide for removal. Helium is used as the primary gas in the plasma, which under ionization, provides for a large density of helium metastable atoms present in the plasma. These metastable helium atoms have on the order of 20 cV of energy which can transfer to particles on the substrate to be cleaned. When the substrate is under a small flux of ion bombardment, these bonds then remain broken and it is theorized that this allows the particles to be volatilized for their subsequent removal. 100 % particle removal efficiency has been obtained for 30 nm, 80 nm, and 200 nm polystyrene latex particles. In addition, removal rate has been correlated with helium metastable population density determined by optical emission spectroscopy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number71401S
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 2008
EventLithography Asia 2008 - Taipei, Taiwan, Province of China
Duration: Nov 4 2008Nov 6 2008


  • Contamination
  • EUVL mask cleaning
  • Metastable helium
  • Particle removal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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