Patents by Inventor Rafael C. Howell

Rafael C. Howell has filed for patents to protect the following inventions. This listing includes patent applications that are pending as well as patents that have already been granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

  • Publication number: 20220121804
    Abstract: A method to determine a curvilinear pattern of a patterning device that includes obtaining (i) an initial image of the patterning device corresponding to a target pattern to be printed on a substrate subjected to a patterning process, and (ii) a process model configured to predict a pattern on the substrate from the initial image, generating, by a hardware computer system, an enhanced image from the initial image, generating, by the hardware computer system, a level set image using the enhanced image, and iteratively determining, by the hardware computer system, a curvilinear pattern for the patterning device based on the level set image, the process model, and a cost function, where the cost function (e.g., EPE) determines a difference between a predicted pattern and the target pattern, where the difference is iteratively reduced.
    Type: Application
    Filed: December 29, 2021
    Publication date: April 21, 2022
    Applicant: ASML NETHERLAND B.V.
    Inventors: Quan Zhang, Been-Der Chen, Rafael C. Howell, Jing Su, Yi Zou, Yen-Wen Lu
  • Publication number: 20220050381
    Abstract: A method for determining a patterning device pattern. The method includes obtaining (i) an initial patterning device pattern having at least one feature, and (ii) a desired feature size of the at least one feature, obtaining, based on a patterning process model, the initial patterning device pattern and a target pattern for a substrate, a difference value between a predicted pattern of the substrate image by the initial patterning device and the target pattern for the substrate, determining a penalty value related the manufacturability of the at least one feature, wherein the penalty value varies as a function of the size of the at least one feature, and determining the patterning device pattern based on the initial patterning device pattern and the desired feature size such that a sum of the difference value and the penalty value is reduced.
    Type: Application
    Filed: October 29, 2019
    Publication date: February 17, 2022
    Applicant: ASML NETHERLANDS B.V.
    Inventors: Roshni BISWAS, Rafael C. HOWELL, Cuiping ZHANG, Ningning JIA, Jingjing LIU, Quan ZHANG
  • Patent number: 11232249
    Abstract: A method to determine a curvilinear pattern of a patterning device that includes obtaining (i) an initial image of the patterning device corresponding to a target pattern to be printed on a substrate subjected to a patterning process, and (ii) a process model configured to predict a pattern on the substrate from the initial image, generating, by a hardware computer system, an enhanced image from the initial image, generating, by the hardware computer system, a level set image using the enhanced image, and iteratively determining, by the hardware computer system, a curvilinear pattern for the patterning device based on the level set image, the process model, and a cost function, where the cost function (e.g., EPE) determines a difference between a predicted pattern and the target pattern, where the difference is iteratively reduced.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 28, 2019
    Date of Patent: January 25, 2022
    Assignee: ASML Netherlands B.V.
    Inventors: Quan Zhang, Been-Der Chen, Rafael C. Howell, Jing Su, Yi Zou, Yen-Wen Lu
  • Publication number: 20210364929
    Abstract: A method for determining a wavefront parameter of a patterning process. The method includes obtaining a reference performance (e.g., a contour, EPE, CD) of a reference apparatus (e.g., a scanner), a lens model for a patterning apparatus configured to convert a wavefront parameter of a wavefront to actuator movement, and a lens fingerprint of a tuning apparatus (e.g., a to-be-matched scanner). Further, the method involves determining the wavefront parameter (e.g., a wavefront parameter such as tilt, offset, etc.) based on the lens fingerprint of the tuning apparatus, the lens model, and a cost function, wherein the cost function is a difference between the reference performance and a tuning apparatus performance.
    Type: Application
    Filed: June 21, 2019
    Publication date: November 25, 2021
    Applicant: ASML NETHERLANDS B.V.
    Inventors: Duan-Fu Stephen HSU, Christoph Rene Konrad Cebulla HENNERKES, Rafael C. HOWELL, Zhan SHI, Xiaoyang Jason LI, Frank STAALS
  • Publication number: 20210271173
    Abstract: A method including: obtaining a thin-mask transmission function of a patterning device and a M3D model for a lithographic process, wherein the thin-mask transmission function is a continuous transmission mask (CTM) and the M3D model at least represents a portion of M3D attributable to multiple edges of structures on the patterning device; determining a M3D mask transmission function of the patterning device by using the thin-mask transmission function and the M3D model; and determining an aerial image produced by the patterning device and the lithographic process, by using the M3D mask transmission function.
    Type: Application
    Filed: May 21, 2021
    Publication date: September 2, 2021
    Applicant: ASML NETHERLANDS B.V.
    Inventors: Yu CAO, Yen-Wen LU, Peng LIU, Rafael C. HOWELL, Roshni BISWAS
  • Patent number: 11054750
    Abstract: A method to improve a lithographic process for imaging a portion of a design layout onto a substrate using a lithographic projection apparatus having an illuminator and projection optics, the method including: computing a multi-variable cost function of a plurality of design variables that are characteristics of the lithographic process, at least some of the design variables being characteristics of the illumination produced by the illuminator and of the design layout, wherein the multi-variable cost function is a function of a three-dimensional resist profile on the substrate, or a three-dimensional radiation field projected from the projection optics, or both; and reconfiguring one or more characteristics of the lithographic process by adjusting the design variables until a predefined termination condition is satisfied.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 11, 2014
    Date of Patent: July 6, 2021
    Assignee: ASML Netherlands B.V.
    Inventors: Duan-Fu Stephen Hsu, Rafael C. Howell, Feng-Liang Liu
  • Patent number: 11016395
    Abstract: A method including: obtaining a thin-mask transmission function of a patterning device and a M3D model for a lithographic process, wherein the thin-mask transmission function represents a continuous transmission mask and the M3D model at least represents a portion of M3D attributable to multiple edges of structures on the patterning device; determining a M3D mask transmission function of the patterning device by using the thin-mask transmission function and the M3D model; and determining an aerial image produced by the patterning device and the lithographic process, by using the M3D mask transmission function.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 6, 2017
    Date of Patent: May 25, 2021
    Assignee: ASML Netherlands B.V.
    Inventors: Yu Cao, Yen-Wen Lu, Peng Liu, Rafael C. Howell, Roshni Biswas
  • Patent number: 10990003
    Abstract: A method to determine a mask pattern for a patterning device. The method includes obtaining a target pattern to be printed on a substrate, an initial continuous tone image corresponding to the target pattern, a binarization function (e.g., a sigmoid, an arctan, a step function, etc.) configured to transform the initial continuous tone image, and a process model configured to predict a pattern on the substrate from an output of the binarization function; and generating a binarized image having a mask pattern corresponding to the initial continuous tone image by iteratively updating the initial continuous tone image based on a cost function such that the cost function is reduced. The cost function (e.g., EPE) determines a difference between a predicted pattern determined by the process model and the target pattern.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 15, 2019
    Date of Patent: April 27, 2021
    Assignee: ASML Netherlands B.V.
    Inventors: Duan-Fu Stephen Hsu, Jingjing Liu, Rafael C. Howell, Xingyue Peng
  • Publication number: 20210048753
    Abstract: A method to determine a curvilinear pattern of a patterning device that includes obtaining (i) an initial image of the patterning device corresponding to a target pattern to be printed on a substrate subjected to a patterning process, and (ii) a process model configured to predict a pattern on the substrate from the initial image, generating, by a hardware computer system, an enhanced image from the initial image, generating, by the hardware computer system, a level set image using the enhanced image, and iteratively determining, by the hardware computer system, a curvilinear pattern for the patterning device based on the level set image, the process model, and a cost function, where the cost function (e.g., EPE) determines a difference between a predicted pattern and the target pattern, where the difference is iteratively reduced.
    Type: Application
    Filed: February 28, 2019
    Publication date: February 18, 2021
    Applicant: ASML NETHERLANDS B.V.
    Inventors: Quan ZHANG, Been-Der CHENG, Rafael C. HOWELL, Jing SU, Yi ZOU, Yen-Wen LU
  • Publication number: 20200380362
    Abstract: Methods of training machine learning models related to a patterning process, including a method for training a machine learning model configured to predict a mask pattern. The method including obtaining (i) a process model of a patterning process configured to predict a pattern on a substrate, wherein the process model comprises one or more trained machine learning models, and (ii) a target pattern, and training the machine learning model configured to predict a mask pattern based on the process model and a cost function that determines a difference between the predicted pattern and the target pattern.
    Type: Application
    Filed: February 20, 2019
    Publication date: December 3, 2020
    Applicant: ASML NETHERLANDS B.V.
    Inventors: Yu CAO, Ya LUO, Yen-Wen LU, Been-Der CHEN, Rafael C. HOWELL, Yi ZOU, Jing SU, Dezheng SUN
  • Publication number: 20200363713
    Abstract: A method to determine a mask pattern for a patterning device. The method includes obtaining a target pattern to be printed on a substrate, an initial continuous tone image corresponding to the target pattern, a binarization function (e.g., a sigmoid, an arctan, a step function, etc.) configured to transform the initial continuous tone image, and a process model configured to predict a pattern on the substrate from an output of the binarization function; and generating a binarized image having a mask pattern corresponding to the initial continuous tone image by iteratively updating the initial continuous tone image based on a cost function such that the cost function is reduced. The cost function (e.g., EPE) determines a difference between a predicted pattern determined by the process model and the target pattern.
    Type: Application
    Filed: February 15, 2019
    Publication date: November 19, 2020
    Applicant: ASML NETHERLANDS B.V.
    Inventors: Duan-Fu Stephen HSU, Jingjing LIU, Rafael C. HOWELL, Xingyue PENG
  • Publication number: 20200073260
    Abstract: A method including: obtaining a thin-mask transmission function of a patterning device and a M3D model for a lithographic process, wherein the thin-mask transmission function represents a continuous transmission mask and the M3D model at least represents a portion of M3D attributable to multiple edges of structures on the patterning device; determining a M3D mask transmission function of the patterning device by using the thin-mask transmission function and the M3D model; and determining an aerial image produced by the patterning device and the lithographic process, by using the M3D mask transmission function.
    Type: Application
    Filed: December 6, 2017
    Publication date: March 5, 2020
    Applicant: ASML NETHERLANDS B.V.
    Inventors: Yu CAO, Yen-Wen LU, Peng LIU, Rafael C. HOWELL
  • Patent number: 10558124
    Abstract: A method for improving a lithographic process for imaging a portion of a design layout onto a substrate using a lithographic projection apparatus, the method including: calculating a discrete pupil profile based on a desired pupil profile; selecting a discrete change to the discrete pupil profile; and applying the selected discrete change to the discrete pupil profile. The methods according to various embodiments disclosed herein may reduce the computational cost of discrete optimization from O(an) to O(n) wherein a is constant and n is the number of knobs that can generate discrete change in the pupil profile.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 25, 2019
    Date of Patent: February 11, 2020
    Assignee: ASML Netherlands B.V.
    Inventors: Xiaofeng Liu, Rafael C. Howell
  • Publication number: 20190369498
    Abstract: Methods of constructing a process model for simulating a characteristic of a product of lithography from patterns produced under different processing conditions. The methods use a deviation between the variation of the simulated characteristic and the variation of the measured characteristic to adjust a parameter of the process model.
    Type: Application
    Filed: January 24, 2018
    Publication date: December 5, 2019
    Applicant: ASML NETHERLANDS B.V.
    Inventors: Mu FENG, Mir Farrokh SHAYEGAN SALEK, Dianwen ZHU, Leiwu ZHENG, Rafael C. HOWELL, Jen-Shiang WANG
  • Patent number: 10459346
    Abstract: A method to improve a lithographic process for imaging a portion of a design layout onto a substrate using a lithographic projection apparatus having an illumination system and projection optics, the method including: obtaining an illumination source shape and a mask defocus value; optimizing a dose of the lithographic process; and optimizing the portion of the design layout for each of a plurality of slit positions of the illumination source.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 16, 2018
    Date of Patent: October 29, 2019
    Assignee: ASML Netherlands B.V.
    Inventors: Duan-Fu Stephen Hsu, Rafael C. Howell, Xiaofeng Liu
  • Patent number: 10401732
    Abstract: Embodiments of the present invention provide methods for optimizing a lithographic projection apparatus including optimizing projection optics therein. The current embodiments include several flows including optimizing a source, a mask, and the projection optics and various sequential and iterative optimization steps combining any of the projection optics, mask and source. The projection optics is sometimes broadly referred to as “lens”, and therefore the optimization process may be termed source mask lens optimization (SMLO). SMLO may be desirable over existing source mask optimization process (SMO) or other optimization processes that do not include projection optics optimization, partially because including the projection optics in the optimization may lead to a larger process window by introducing a plurality of adjustable characteristics of the projection optics.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 6, 2017
    Date of Patent: September 3, 2019
    Assignee: ASML Netherlands B.V.
    Inventors: Duan-Fu Hsu, Luoqi Chen, Hanying Feng, Rafael C. Howell, Xinjian Zhou, Yi-Fan Chen
  • Publication number: 20190155165
    Abstract: A method for improving a lithographic process for imaging a portion of a design layout onto a substrate using a lithographic projection apparatus, the method including: calculating a discrete pupil profile based on a desired pupil profile; selecting a discrete change to the discrete pupil profile; and applying the selected discrete change to the discrete pupil profile. The methods according to various embodiments disclosed herein may reduce the computational cost of discrete optimization from O(an) to O(n) wherein a is constant and n is the number of knobs that can generate discrete change in the pupil profile.
    Type: Application
    Filed: January 25, 2019
    Publication date: May 23, 2019
    Applicant: ASML Netherlands B.V.
    Inventors: Xiaofeng LIU, Rafael C. Howell
  • Patent number: 10191384
    Abstract: A method for improving a lithographic process for imaging a portion of a design layout onto a substrate using a lithographic projection apparatus, the method including: calculating a discrete pupil profile based on a desired pupil profile; selecting a discrete change to the discrete pupil profile; and applying the selected discrete change to the discrete pupil profile. The methods according to various embodiments disclosed herein may reduce the computational cost of discrete optimization from O(an) to O(n) wherein a is constant and n is the number of knobs that can generate discrete change in the pupil profile.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 4, 2014
    Date of Patent: January 29, 2019
    Assignee: ASML Netherlands B.V.
    Inventors: Xiaofeng Liu, Rafael C. Howell
  • Publication number: 20180341186
    Abstract: A method to improve a lithographic process for imaging a portion of a design layout onto a substrate using a lithographic projection apparatus having an illumination system and projection optics, the method including: obtaining an illumination source shape and a mask defocus value; optimizing a dose of the lithographic process; and optimizing the portion of the design layout for each of a plurality of slit positions of the illumination source.
    Type: Application
    Filed: July 16, 2018
    Publication date: November 29, 2018
    Applicant: ASML Netherlands B.V.
    Inventors: Duan-Fu Stephen HSU, Rafael C. HOWELL, Xiaofeng LIU
  • Patent number: 10025201
    Abstract: A method to improve a lithographic process for imaging a portion of a design layout onto a substrate using a lithographic projection apparatus having an illumination system and projection optics, the method including: obtaining an illumination source shape and a mask defocus value; optimizing a dose of the lithographic process; and optimizing the portion of the design layout for each of a plurality of slit positions of the illumination source.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 13, 2015
    Date of Patent: July 17, 2018
    Assignee: ASML Netherlands B.V.
    Inventors: Duan-Fu Stephen Hsu, Rafael C. Howell, Xiaofeng Liu