What is nSPEC®?
What is the nSPEC®?
The Nanotronics Imaging nSPEC® is an automated, optical inspection device designed for high resolution microscopy and detection of defects and other features of interest on semiconductor wafers and related materials. With particular application in silicon carbide and gallium nitride epi wafers, the nSPEC® offers fast quantification and qualification of defects with detailed reporting and mapping. The nSPEC® can also image and analyze substrate and epi wafers as well as patterned and diced wafers and even individual devices. The system can be provided fully automated with multiple magnifications in order to fully characterize defect frequency and type. The system offers complete rapid scanning and mosaicing of wafers. Reports and statistical functions are easily defined by users and generated by nSPEC®.
Hardware is critical in an inspection system. We use only the highest quality optics from the worlds’ leaders in microscopy including Nikon. We couple the optics with high resolution cameras for image capture and analysis. By high resolution we do not mean just a high number of megapixels, but high spatial resolution - the ability to discern small variances. With great optics and photo-microscopy we then add lighting to meet these demanding applications. Wavelengths can be chosen and light paths selected to optimize resolution and imaging requirements. Nanotronics Imaging also automates the stage, turret and illuminator and F-stop for rapid and accurate scanning.
Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) tip
Nanotronics Imaging now offers an optional AFM tip that can attach directly to the nSPEC®'s turret. With an X/Y resolution of 1.7 nm and a Z resolution of 0.34nm, high resolution probing of sub nm features are now a reality with the optional AFM. Feature length and height as well as depth and surface roughness data can be obtained with the AFM.
Software makes the difference!
There seems to be a distinction in the instrumentation field: quality control versus R&D. At Nanotronics Imaging we don’t like to make this distinction. Our job is to provide an instrument with the highest quality components and the easiest to use software interface. If you choose to look at 5 defects at 100x magnification or 100 defects at 5x, that should be your choice. With the hardware selected it should be a matter of software. In an R&D setting, the technologists want full control of the microscope; focus, lighting, magnification, polarization, contrast, et. al. In a quality control production-level setting, the technologists want the instrument to repeat, within parameters, what has been determined to be the inspection specification. For that reason we have engineered software that controls all aspects of measurement. These controls include focus, specimen movement, lighting, and objective (magnification) selection. We can also automate color wheels, if you need color but a color camera does not offer the spatial resolution needed, polarizer’s and DIC. Do you require automatic specimen handling? We have capability for wafer handling and are happy to look at other specimen types. Our constant goal is to provide easy to set up, easy to use microscopy with a data output that is easy to apply. Software really does make the difference.
The engineers at Nanotronics Imaging recently launched an automated scratch/dig analyzer to increase inspection speeds and to decrease subjectivity. This is a novel and breakthrough technology that will help optics quality inspectors better characterize their products according to MIL Specs.
What about science at Nanotronics Imaging?
With so much engineering going on at Nanotronics Imaging it is easy to forget that all of this and our future will also be decided by basic science research both in our labs and with our partners. These explorations into new chip architecture, spectral analysis, reconstruction techniques, and illumination will create opportunities for our clients that are now only being imagined. Already we have written a Ph.D dissertation, and several journal articles, as well as applied for 3 patents on ideas that inspired us to look beyond conventional approaches to microscopy. We look forward to thinking, experimenting, and sharing ideas with universities and clients.