Paul van Gerven
22 December 2020

Nearfield Instruments (NFI) has shipped its first semiconductor metrology system to an undisclosed customer. The high-throughput scanning probe instrument, called the Quadra, demonstrated successful multi-head operation, measuring dense structures with high aspect-ratios on advanced DRAM and Logic device wafers.

The Quadra is capable to handle 5nm logic nodes and beyond. Credit: NFI

Founded in 2016, NFI builds atomic force microscopes (AFMs) that create high-resolution 3D images of wafer surfaces by scanning them with many needles in parallel. The Rotterdam-based TNO spinoff claims a 100-fold throughput advantage over other automated single-probe AFMs targeted for in-line metrology. This high sampling rate helps semiconductor manufacturers determine lot-to-lot, wafer-to-wafer and intra-wafer process variations.

Going forward, NFI plans to increase the number of scanning heads and expand its 3D imaging capabilities for future product generations. “As critical dimensions continue to shrink with each new technology node and become more 3D in shape, the relative importance of metrology increases. Our new 3D metrology system QUADRA can solve some of the key challenges, especially for narrow trenches with high aspect-ratios and measure these at the throughput that production environments require,” commented Hamed Sadeghian, president and CTO of NFI.