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Proceedings Paper

Photolithography diagnostic expert systems: a systematic approach to problem solving in a wafer fabrication facility
Author(s): Caroline Weatherwax Scott; Christopher R. Tsareff
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Paper Abstract

One of the main goals of process engineering in the semiconductor industry is to improve wafer fabrication productivity and throughput. Engineers must work continuously toward this goal in addition to performing sustaining and development tasks. To accomplish these objectives, managers must make efficient use of engineering resources. One of the tools being used to improve efficiency is the diagnostic expert system. Expert systems are knowledge based computer programs designed to lead the user through the analysis and solution of a problem. Several photolithography diagnostic expert systems have been implemented at the Hughes Technology Center to provide a systematic approach to process problem solving. This systematic approach was achieved by documenting cause and effect analyses for a wide variety of processing problems. This knowledge was organized in the form of IF-THEN rules, a common structure for knowledge representation in expert system technology. These rules form the knowledge base of the expert system which is stored in the computer. The systems also include the problem solving methodology used by the expert when addressing a problem in his area of expertise. Operators now use the expert systems to solve many process problems without engineering assistance. The systems also facilitate the collection of appropriate data to assist engineering in solving unanticipated problems. Currently, several expert systems have been implemented to cover all aspects of the photolithography process. The systems, which have been in use for over a year, include wafer surface preparation (HMDS), photoresist coat and softbake, align and expose on a wafer stepper, and develop inspection. These systems are part of a plan to implement an expert system diagnostic environment throughout the wafer fabrication facility. In this paper, the systems' construction is described, including knowledge acquisition, rule construction, knowledge refinement, testing, and evaluation. The roles played by the process engineering expert and the knowledge engineer are discussed. The features of the systems are shown, particularly the interactive quality of the consultations and the ease of system use.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 June 1990
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 1261, Integrated Circuit Metrology, Inspection, and Process Control IV, (1 June 1990); doi: 10.1117/12.20053
Show Author Affiliations
Caroline Weatherwax Scott, Hughes Aircraft Co. (United States)
Christopher R. Tsareff, Hughes Aircraft Co. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1261:
Integrated Circuit Metrology, Inspection, and Process Control IV
William H. Arnold, Editor(s)

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