November 3, 2013. FEI has released ExSolve, an automated, high throughput sample preparation workflow for transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis. The ExSolve wafer TEM prep (WTP) dramatically reduces the cost and increases the speed of sample preparation, providing semiconductor and data storage manufacturers with quick and easy access to the data they need to verify and monitor process performance.
ExSolve can prepare site-specific TEM lamella, sampling many sites per wafer in a fully-automated process inside the fab, giving semiconductor manufacturers much more information than conventional approaches, while at the same time reducing the capital cost of sample preparation by up to 70%.
“TEM analysis is the only method that allows semiconductor manufacturers to fully characterize, understand and control their advanced manufacturing processes, such as three-dimensional and multigate devices, at the 20-nm node and smaller. Until now, most sample preparation for TEM analysis has used slow, manual processes that break the wafer into multiple hard-to-track and hard-to-handle pieces,” stated Rudy Kellner, vice president and general manager of the Industry Group at FEI. “ExSolve fully automates lamella creation from whole wafers, eliminating most of the manual sample handling and data tracking overhead. We expect ExSolve to transform the way process engineers think about process data. Instead of trying to make the most of a minimal sampling plan, they can now have fast, inexpensive access to all the data they need for thorough process verification.”
The ExSolve WTP system is an automated, high-throughput sample preparation system that can prepare site-specific, 20-nm thick lamellae on whole wafers up to 300 mm in diameter. It is part of a fast, complete workflow that includes TEMLink and the Metrios TEM. The ExSolve includes FOUP handling and is designed to be located in the fab near the manufacturing line.
The ExSolve WTP workflow addresses the needs of customers that require automated, high-throughput sampling at advanced technology nodes. Itcomplements the capabilities of FEI's Helios NanoLab DualBeam 1200AT, which provides more flexible, operator-directed, sample preparation methods, along with additional capabilities such as high-resolution scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging and analysis.