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SEMICONDUCTOR LABS PUT NEW NIST SOFTWARE THROUGH ITS PACES.

Forty semiconductor industry laboratories that require accurate measurements of the concentration and distribution of dopant atoms within nanometer-scale devices are field testing a beta version of NIST's new FASTC2D ("fast capacitance to dopant" level) software. The software provides an essential link between qualitative images captured by a scanning capacitance microscope (known as an SCM) and quantitative data required to design transistors for future integrated circuits.

Dopants are like a seasoning within semiconductor devices. The distribution of dopants controls how a transistor works. To control the flow of electrons to the levels required in modern circuits, engineers must know the precise distribution of dopants, with a spatial resolution better than 10 nanometers.

SCMs are strong candidates for achieving target levels of precision and resolution. Therefore, the International Technology Road Map for Semiconductors has identified them as a critical measurement tool for continued miniaturization of semiconductors.

Capacitance--a measure of electrical charge-storing capacity--also could benefit from the use of SCMs. The SCM senses capacitance between the doped region and a sharp tip positioned close to the surface of a cross section cut through the transistor structure. However, details of the resulting image have resisted accurate interpretation.

The FASTC2D computer software transforms pixel data from an SCM image into a map that accurately shows the distribution of dopant atoms. NIST researchers developed the underlying theory and later packaged it into software suitable for manufacturing engineers. Designed to run on a desktop computer, the software features a user-friendly graphical interface. It also produces highly accurate results achieved with models based on principles of physics that translate capacitance into two- or three-dimensional quantitative data on dopant concentrations.

NIST is improving the software based on responses from the 40 laboratories and plans to publish a new version and a user's guide to the software. Both the software and the guide will be available via NIST's World Wide Web site.
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Publication:Journal of Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2001
Words:312
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