Printer Friendly

How to measure birefringence with ellipsometry.

Few realize that ellipsometry can also be used to measure the phase change in birefringent materials. Birefringent materials have a different refractive index for light traveling along different directions.

The refractive index also describes the phase velocity for light, so a different index ([n.sub.x] [not equal to] [n.sub.y]) creates a fast and slow axis. Light oscillating along the slow axis will be "delayed" relative to the light oscillating along the fast axis.

Common birefringent materials include crystals with non-symmetric atomic spacing (e.g. calcite, sapphire) and oriented polymer films. The birefringent effect can be very beneficial. Liquid crystals are a twisted birefringent material used in many laptop displays. Some thin polymer films have low in-plane birefringence with higher out-of-plane birefringence. SE data are acquired at different incidence angles through these films and can be used to characterize both the in-plane and out-of-plane birefringence for proper viewing-angle compensation.

Birefringence is not always welcome. Photolithography optics need low birefringence to clearly produce the small line-widths used in microelectronics. To produce smaller features, lithography is shifting toward shorter wavelengths.

At 157 nm, the optics are made from calcium fluoride (Ca[F.sub.2]) because other materials are absorbing. Ca[F.sub.2] is cubic, so it was believed to exhibit only stress-induced birefringence. Researchers have shown that Ca[F.sub.2] can exhibit birefringence levels far above the lithography tolerance at 157 nm when light travels along certain crystal directions.

Optics manufacturers have struggled to change designs to compensate for this characteristic. It is essential to measure birefringence at the operation wavelength to insure that the lithography tool meets its specification.

Spectroscopic Ellipsometry (SE) A common metrology technique for characterizing thin film thickness and refractive index (n and k). It operates on the basis of measuring a polarization change (both amplitude and phase) when light is reflected from a coating.

Web Resources for Ellipsometry:


* ellipse.html


James Hilfiker

Hilfiker is an engineer at J.A. Woollam Co. Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Advantage Business Media
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Vacuum Technology
Author:Hilfiker, James
Publication:R & D
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2004
Previous Article:How to choose a vacuum system.
Next Article:Electron microscopes stand corrected: correction for the spherical aberration of lenses in electron microscopes is allowing scientists to push the...

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters