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Exposure method and projection exposure apparatus
RE37913 Exposure method and projection exposure apparatus
Patent Drawings:Drawing: RE37913-3    Drawing: RE37913-4    Drawing: RE37913-5    Drawing: RE37913-6    Drawing: RE37913-7    Drawing: RE37913-8    
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Inventor: Nishi
Date Issued: November 26, 2002
Application: 09/515,503
Filed: April 12, 2000
Inventors: Nishi; Kenji (Kawasaki, JP)
Assignee: Nikon Corporation (Tokyo, JP)
Primary Examiner: Braun; Fred L
Assistant Examiner:
Attorney Or Agent: Oliff & Berridge, PLC
U.S. Class: 355/53; 355/55
Field Of Search: 355/53; 355/55; 355/71; 355/77; 250/548; 356/125; 356/152; 356/358; 356/450
International Class: G03F 7/20
U.S Patent Documents: 3819265; 4068947; 4420233; 4558949; 4585337; 4676630; 4705940; 4742376; 4747678; 4748487; 4770531; 4864360; 4869998; 4869999; 4878086; 4902900; 4924257; 4933714; 4953960; 4962318; 4999669; 5089913; 5150152; 5151749; 5160957; 5227839; 5227862; 5238870
Foreign Patent Documents: A-61-251025; A-62-208629; A-63-12134; A-63-58930; A-63-128713
Other References: English-language translation of JP-A-63-12134..
English-language translation of JP-A-61-251025..
Solid State Technology, May 1982, "Expanding the Horizons of Optical Projection Lithography", Jere D. Buckley, pp. 77-82..
SPIE, vol. 1088 Optical/Laser Microlithography II (1989), Step and Scan: A Systems Overview of a New Lithography Tool), Jere D. Buckley et al., pp. 424-433..
J. Vac. Sci. Technol., 17(5), Sep./Oct. 1980, "Optical Imaging for Microfabrication", J.H. Bruning, pp. 1147-1155..
SPIE vol. 922, Optical/Laser Microlithography (1988), "the Paths to Subhalf-Micrometer Optical Lithography", Burn J. Lin, pp. 256-269..
Semiconductor International, May, 1986, "Submicron 1:1 Optical Lithography", David A, Markle, pp. 137-142..
"An Optical Lithography Scenario", by J.H. Bruning, Lithography Working Group, Mar. 26-27, 1991..









Abstract: A projection exposure apparatus carries out scan exposure with illumination flux of slit(s) by moving a mask and a substrate in a direction of one-dimension at synchronized speeds with each other. The mask is inclined with a predetermined angle relative to the substrate in the direction of one-dimensional movement. The substrate is also moved in a direction of optical axis of projection optical system when moved in the direction of one-dimensional, such that a central part of transfer area on the substrate is located on a best focal plane of projection optical system upon scan exposure.
Claim: What is claimed is: .[.

1. A method for exposure in which a pattern formed in a transfer region on a mask is subject to projection exposure through a projection optical system to be led onto anarea to be exposed on a photosensitive substrate, and said mask and photosensitive substrate are at least one-dimensionally, relatively scanned with respect to a projection field of said projection optical system: comprising, limiting a width of saidarea of pattern image projected on said photosensitive substrate through the projection optical system to an approximately constant value in a direction of one-dimensional scan; and inclining a local surface on said photosensitive substrate on whichsaid pattern image is formed, relative to a best focal plane of said projection optical system in the direction of one-dimensional scan..]. .[.

2. A method for exposure according to claim 1, wherein a central part of said local surface in the direction of one-dimensional scan on said photosensitive substrate, on which said pattern image is formed, substantially coincides with said bestfocal plane of projection optical system when scanned for exposure..]..[.

3. A method for exposure according to claim 1, wherein, defining a width of local surface on the photosensitive substrate in the direction of one-dimensional scan, on which said pattern image is formed as D.sub.ap, an angle of inclinationbetween said local surface and said best focal plane as .theta..sub.1, and a depth of focus of said projection optical system in a direction of optical axis as .DELTA.Z.sub.f, the following relation is satisfied by adjusting at least one of said widthD.sub.ap of the pattern image area and said inclination angle .theta..sub.1 ;

4. A method for exposure according to claim 1, wherein, the order to limit said width of pattern image area in the direction of one-dimensional scan, a shape of illumination flux for exposure is made rectangular on said mask to be illuminatedthereby, and an intensity distribution of said rectangular illumination flux has at least two peaks in the direction of one-dimensional scan..]..[.

5. A projection exposure apparatus comprising: a projection optical system for projecting a pattern formed in a transfer region on a mask, onto an area to be exposed on a photosensitive substrate; a mask stage for one-dimensionally moving saidmask over a region beyond a width of said transfer region in a direction of movement; a substrate stage for one-dimensionally moving said photosensitive substrate in the direction of one-dimensional movement of said mask stage at a speed synchronizedwith a movement speed of said mask stage; illumination means for illuminating said mask with an illumination flux for exposure, having a shape between a rectangular and a slit within the projection field of said projection optical system and having anapproximately constant width in the direction of one-dimensional movement; a substrate holder the holding said photosensitive substrate on said substrate stage with a predetermined inclination angle with respect to the direction of one-dimensionalmovement of illuminated area formed by said illumination flux on said photosensitive substrate through said mask and said projection optical system; holder drive means for moving said substrate holder in a direction of optical axis of said projectionoptical system such that a central part of said illuminated area on said photosensitive substrate is located near a best focal plane of said projection optical system; and control means for controlling said holder drive means to maintain an imagingcondition of pattern image of said mask on said photosensitive substrate with correspondence to a position in said illuminated area in the direction of one-dimensional movement while scan exposure of pattern of said mask is effected on said area to beexposed..]. .Iadd.

6. A scanning exposure apparatus in which a substrate is exposed with an energy beam by moving a mask and the substrate relative to the energy beam, comprising: a projection system, arranged in a path of the energy beam, which is a reductionsystem to project a reduction image of a pattern formed on the mask onto the substrate; an illumination system, disposed along the path of the energy beam, which distributes the energy beam within a specified rectangular region in an image field of theprojection system; a first stage, disposed on an object surface side of the projection system, which is movable in a first direction while holding the mask during scanning exposure of the substrate; a first interferometer which measures positionalinformation of the first stage in the first direction during the scanning exposure; a second stage, disposed on an image surface side of the projection system, which is movable in a second direction while holding the substrate during the scanningexposure, wherein a width of the specified region in the second direction is shorter than a length of the specified region in a direction perpendicular to the second direction; a second interferometer which measures positional information of the secondstage in the second direction during the scanning exposure; a driving unit connected to the first and second interferometers to adjust a relative relationship between the mask and the substrate based on the positional information measured by the firstand second interferometers during the scanning exposure, said driving unit including a first driving system to move the first stage and a second driving system to move the second stage, wherein the first stage is moved at a first speed and the secondstage is moved at a second speed which is different from the first speed and a ratio between the first speed and the second speed is determined in accordance with a reduction magnification of the projection system; and a reflection member, disposed inthe path of the energy beam within the illumination system, which reflects the energy beam, wherein the second direction is substantially parallel to a plane which includes an axis of the energy beam incident on the reflection member and an axis of theenergy beam reflected by the reflection member..Iaddend..Iadd.

7. An apparatus according to claim 6, wherein: the projection system is a telecentric reduction system and is composed only of refraction elements; an optical axis of the projection system is substantially in one straight line; and thespecified rectangular region extends in the direction substantially perpendicular to the second direction..Iaddend..Iadd.

8. An apparatus according to claim 6, wherein: the second interferometer measures rotational information of the second stage during the scanning exposure..Iaddend..Iadd.

9. An apparatus according to claim 6, further comprising: a first reference reflection surface for the measurement of the first interferometer, arranged on a barrel of the projection system; and a second reference reflection surface for themeasurement of the second interferometer, arranged on the barrel of the projection system..Iaddend..Iadd.

10. An apparatus according to claim 6, wherein; a reference member, disposed on the second stage, which defines a relationship between the positional information measured by the first interferometer and the positional information measured bythe second interferometer..Iaddend..Iadd.

11. An apparatus according to claim 6, wherein: speed information of the first and second stages is detected during the scanning exposure..Iaddend..Iadd.

12. An apparatus according to claim 6, wherein the projection system is composed only of refraction elements; and an optical axis of the projection system is substantially in one straight line..Iaddend..Iadd.

13. An apparatus according to claim 12, wherein: the projection system is telecentric on the image surface side and on the object surface side..Iaddend..Iadd.

14. An apparatus according to claim 6, wherein: the specified rectangular region extends in the direction substantially perpendicular to the second direction..Iaddend..Iadd.

15. An apparatus according to claim 6, further comprising: an optical integrator disposed in the path of the energy beam in the illumination system; and wherein the reflection member is disposed between the optical integrator and the projectionsystem..Iaddend..Iadd.

16. An apparatus according to claim 15, wherein: the optical integrator includes a fly-eye lens system..Iaddend..Iadd.

17. An apparatus according to claim 6, wherein: the axis of the energy beam incident on the reflection member is substantially parallel to the second direction..Iaddend..Iadd.

18. A scanning exposure method in which a substrate is exposed with an energy beam by moving a mask and the substrate relative to the energy beam, comprising: providing the mask on a first stage; providing the substrate on a second stage; moving the first stage in a first direction during scanning exposure; moving the second stage in a second direction during the scanning exposure, wherein the first stage and the second stage are moved at respective speeds which are different from eachother, and the respective speeds are determined in accordance with a reduction magnification of a projection system that projects a reduction image of a pattern formed on the mask onto the substrate; distributing the energy beam within a specifiedrectangular region in an image field of the projection system through a reflection member of an illumination system, wherein a width of the specified region in the second direction is shorter than a length of the specified region in a directionperpendicular to the second direction, and wherein the second direction is substantially parallel to a plane which includes an axis of the energy beam incident on the reflection member and an axis of the energy beam reflected by the reflection member; measuring, during the scanning exposure, positional information in the first direction and rotational information of the first stage using a first interferometer; measuring, during the scanning exposure, positional information in the second direction ofthe second stage using a second interferometer; and adjusting, during the scanning exposure, a positional relationship between the mask held on the first stage and the substrate held on the second stage based on the positional information and therotational information measured by the first interferometer and the positional information measured by the second interferometer..Iaddend..Iadd.

19. A method according to claim 18, wherein: the projection system is a telecentric reduction system and is composed only of refraction elements; an optical axis of the projection system is substantially in one straight line; and the specifiedrectangular region extends in the direction substantially perpendicular to the second direction..Iaddend..Iadd.

20. A method according to claim 18, further comprising: measuring rotational information of the second stage using the second interferometer during the scanning exposure..Iaddend..Iadd.

21. A method according to claim 18, wherein: a first reference reflection surface for the measurement of the first interferometer is arranged on a barrel of the projection system; and a second reflection surface for the measurement of thesecond interferometer is arranged on the barrel of the projection system..Iaddend..Iadd.

22. A method according to claim 18, further comprising: defining a relationship between the positional information measured by the first interferometer and the positional information measured by the second interferometer using a reference memberon the second stage..Iaddend..Iadd.

23. A method according to claim 18, further comprising: detecting speed information of the first and second stages during the scanning exposure..Iaddend..Iadd.

24. A method according to claim 18, wherein: the projection system is composed only of refraction elements; and an optical axis of the projection system is substantially in one straight line..Iaddend..Iadd.

25. A method according to claim 24, wherein the projection system is telecentric on the image surface side and the object surface side..Iaddend..Iadd.

26. A method according to claim 18, wherein: the specified rectangular region extends in the direction substantially perpendicular to the seond direction..Iaddend..Iadd.

27. A method according to claim 18, wherein the reflection member is disposed between an optical integrator and the projection system..Iaddend..Iadd.

28. A method according to claim 27, wherein the optical integrator includes a fly-eye lens system..Iaddend.
Description: BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to an exposure method and a projection exposure apparatus used in a lithography process in production of semiconductor elements, liquid crystal elements, or the like.

2. Related Background Art

There are two fundamental exposure methods conventionally used in such projection exposure apparatus. In one method, a photosensitive substrate such as semi-conductor wafer, glass plate, etc. is exposed to light in a step and repeated methodthrough a projection optical system having an exposure field which can include the whole pattern of mask or reticle. The other is a scan method in which a reticle and a photosensitive substrate are opposed to each other at the both sides of a projectionoptical system under illumination light of arch slit illuminates the reticle, and the reticle and the photosensitive substrate are relatively scanned for exposure under the illumination. Steppers employing the former step and repeat exposure method areleading apparatus recently used in the lithography process. The step and repeat exposure method has been improved in resolution, overlay accuracy, throughput, and so on, and became superior in these respects to aligners employing the latter exposuremethod. Therefore, it is considered that such steppers employing the step and repeat exposure method will be leading in lithography for a while.

It is proposed for the step and repeat exposure method that the photosensitive substrate and a best imaging plane of projection optical system be relatively moved in direction of optical axis during exposure of one shot area in order to increasean apparent depth of focus of the projection optical system. This exposure method will be hereinafter referred to as a successive focussing exposure method. In this successive focussing exposure method, the moving amount in the optical axis directionis determined considering a real depth of focus of projection optical system and micro unevenness on the photosensitive substrate. The best imaging plane of projection optical system is arranged to be located between the top and the bottom of theunevenness on the photosensitive substrate surface during the movement.

Meanwhile, a novel scan exposure method achieving high resolution has been recently proposed as a step and scan method on pp 424-433, SPIE vol. 1088, "Optical/Laser Microlithography II", 1989. The step and scan method uses both a scan method, inwhich a reticle is one-dimensionally scanned and a photosensitive substrate is also one-dimensionally scanned at a speed synchronized with the reticle speed, and a step method, in which the photosensitive substrate is stepped in a direction perpendicularto the scan exposure direction.

FIG. 11 is a drawing to illustrate a concept of the step and scan method. In FIG. 11, a shot area of one chip or multiple chips is scanned for exposure with illumination light RIL of arch slit in the X-direction on a photosensitive substrate orwafer W. The wafer is stepped in the Y-direction. In FIG. 11 a broken line shows a sequence of exposure of step and scan as will be hereinafter referred to as S and S, so that the S and S exposure is carried out on shot areas SA.sub.1, SA.sub.2, . . ., SA.sub.6 in this order, and then on shot areas SA.sub.7, SA.sub.8, . . . , SA.sub.12 arranged in the Y-direction in the center of the wafer. In the aligner of the S and S method as disclosed in the above-mentioned reference, an image of reticlepattern illuminated by the arch slit illumination light RIL is focussed on the wafer W through a one-quarter reduction projection optical system. Thus, a scan speed of reticle stage in the X-direction is controlled precisely to fourth times of that ofwafer stage in the X-direction. The arch slit illumination light RIL is used because a demagnification system with a combination of refraction and reflection elements is employed as the projection optical system, and advantage is taken of variousabberations being zero in a narrow annular region apart at a certain distance from the optical axis. An example of such reflection reduction projection system is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,747,678.

However, it is impossible that the successive focussing exposure method for the step and repeat method is applied to the step and scan method. In detail, the step and repeat method takes such a structure that the reticle/wafer and theillumination optical flux/exposure flux cannot be moved relative to each other in a direction perpendicular to the optical axis of the projection optical system, i.e., in a direction of wafer plane, upon exposure of one shot area. Therefore, a point ofpattern in a transfer region on a reticle may be exposed at a plurality of focus points by relatively moving the wafer and the projection optical system in a direction of the optical axis upon exposure. In contrast, the step and scan method takes such astructure that the reticle/wafer and the illumination flux/exposure flux may be moved relative to each other in the direction perpendicular to the optical axis upon exposure of one shot area. In this structure, if the wafer and the projection opticalsystem are moved relative to each other in the optical axis direction upon exposure, there would be mixed focussed parts and unfoccused parts on the wafer depending on positions in the transfer region on the reticle. Accordingly, if the same successivefocussing method as in the step and repeat method is used for the S and S method, an increase in a depth of focus could not be expected, but degrading the resolution of image on the contrary.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is, therefore, an object of the present invention to provide an exposure method and a projection exposure apparatus, applying a successive focussing method to a scanning exposure method, to obtain an increase in a depth of focus.

The object of the present invention, solving the above-described problem can be achieved by a method for exposure in which a pattern IR formed in a transfer region on a mask R is subject to projection exposure through a projection optical systemPL to the led onto an area to be exposure, or shot area, on a photosensitive substrate W, and the mask and the photosensitive substrate are at least one-dimensionally, relatively scanned with respect to a projection field IF of the projection opticalsystem PL: comprising, limiting a width of the area of pattern image projection on the photosensitive substrate W through the projection optical system PL to an approximately constant value in a direction of one-dimensional scan; and inclining a localsurface on the photosensitive substrate W on which the pattern image is formed, relative to a best focal plane BF of the projection optical system PL in the direction of one-dimensional scan.

Also, the object of the present invention can be achieved by a projection exposure apparatus comprising: a projection optical system PL for projecting a pattern IR formed in a transfer region on a mask R, onto an area to be exposed, or shot area,on a photosensitive substrate W; a mask stage 14 for one-dimensionally moving the mask R over a region beyond a width of the transfer region in a direction of movement; a substrate stage 17, 18 for one-dimensionally moving the photosensitive substrate Win the direction of one-dimensional movement of the mask stage 14 at a speed synchronized with a movement speed of the mask stage 14; an illumination system 1-13 for illuminating the mask R with an illumination flux for exposure, having a shape between arectangle and a slit within the projection field IF of the projection optical system PL and having an approximately constant width in the direction of one-dimensional movement; a substrate holder 16 for holding the photosensitive substrate W on thesubstrate stage 17, 18 with a predetermined inclination angle with respect to the direction of one-dimensional movement of illuminated area formed by the illumination flux on the photosensitive substrate through the mask R and the projection opticalsystem PL; a holder drive system 21 for moving the substrate holder 16 in a direction of optical axis AX of the projection optical system such that a central part of the illuminated area on the photosensitive substrate W is located near a best focalplane of the projection optical system PL; and a control system 54 for controlling the holder drive system 21 to maintain an imaging condition of pattern image of the mask R on the photosensitive substrate W with correspondence to a position in theilluminated area in the direction of one-dimensional movement while scan exposure of pattern of the mask is effected on the area to be exposed.

According to the present invention, in a projection exposure apparatus of scanning exposure method, the substrate holder is arranged to hold the photosensitive substrate with the predetermined inclination to the one-dimensional scan direction ofillumination area of illumination flux, so that the best focal plane of projection optical system and the illuminated area on the photosensitive substrate may be inclined relative to each other. Further, the holder drive means is provided in translatethe substrate holder in the optical axis direction of projection optical system, such that the central part in the illuminated area on the photosensitive substrate is located at or near the best focal plane of the projection optical system. Thisarrangement allows continuous or discrete change of focussing of pattern image on the reticle for scan exposure. In other words, the depth of focus may be effectively increased.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a drawing to show a structure of a preferred embodiment of a projection exposure apparatus according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a drawing to show an arrangement of blades constituting a reticle blind;

FIG. 3A is a drawing to show a schematic structure near a wafer holder;

FIG. 3B is a drawing to show an illumination condition of illumination flow from a leveling sensor on a wafer;

FIGS. 4A-4C are drawings to schematically show a method for exposure using the projection exposure apparatus of the preferred embodiment according to the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a drawing to show a distribution of exposure in a direction of the optical axis at an arbitrary position on a wafer by the scan exposure;

FIGS. 6A and 6B are drawings to show a distribution of intensity of image provided at an arbitrary position on the wafer when the scanning exposure is effected by the projection exposure apparatus of the preferred embodiment according to thepresent invention;

FIG. 7 is a drawing to show another example of blades constituting a reticle blind;

FIG. 8 is a drawing to show a distribution of exposure in the optical axis direction at an arbitrary position on the wafer by the scanning exposure;

FIGS. 9A and 9B are drawings to show distributions of intensity of image given at an arbitrary position on the wafer when the scanning exposure effected by the projection exposure apparatus of another preferred embodiment according to presentinvention;

FIG. 10 is a drawing to show a distribution of exposure in the optical axis direction at an arbitrary position by the scanning exposure; and

FIG. 11 is a drawing to illustrate a concept of prior art step and scan exposure method.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 is a drawing to show a structure of a preferred embodiment of a projection exposure apparatus according to the present invention. In this embodiment, a projection optical system PL may be composed only of refraction elements or of acombination of refraction and reflection elements to be a one-fifth reduction system, as being double side telecentric.

Illumination light for exposure for a mercury vapor lamp 1 is condensed at a secondary focus point by an ellipsoidal mirror 2. A rotary shutter 3 is disposed at the secondary focus point to switch the illumination light between interception andtransmission of light by a motor 4. The illumination light passed through the shutter 3 is reflected by a mirror 5, and enters an optical integrator or fly eye lens 7 through an input lens 6. There are numerous secondary light source images formed atthe output side of the fly eye lens 7, and the illumination light from the secondary light source images is led through a beam splitter 8 into a lens system or condenser lens 9.

Movable blades BL.sub.1, BL.sub.2, BL.sub.3, BL.sub.4 of a reticle blind mechanism 10 as shown in FIG. 2 are arranged on a back side focal plane of the lens system 9. The four blades BL.sub.1, BL.sub.2, BL.sub.3, BL.sub.4 are independently movedby a drive system 50. In this embodiment, edges of the blades BL.sub.1, BL.sub.2 define a width of aperture AP in the X-direction or scan exposure direction, and edges of blades BL.sub.3, BL.sub.4 a length of the aperture AP in the Y-direction orstepping direction. The aperture AP defined by the respective edges of four blades BL.sub.1 -BL.sub.4 is included in a circular image field IF of the projection optical system PL.

The illumination light takes a uniform distribution of illumination at the position of the blind mechanism 10. The illumination light passed through the aperture AP of the blind mechanism 10 is guided through a lens system 11, a mirror 12, and amain condenser lens 13 to a reticle R to be illuminated. Then an image of the aperture AP defined by the four blades BL.sub.1 -BL.sub.4 of the blind mechanism 10 is focussed on a pattern plane on a lower surface of the reticle R.

The reticle R receiving the illumination light defined by the aperture AP is held by a reticle stage 14, which is movable at a uniform rate at least in the X-direction on a column 15. The column 15 is incorporated with an unrepresented columnholding a lens barrel of the projection optical system PL. The reticle stage 14 may be one-dimensionally moved in the X-direction and rotated by a small amount to correct its yawing by a drive system 51. A movable mirror 31 is fixed at an end of thereticle stage 14 to reflect a measurement beam from a laser interferometer 30, so that the laser interferometer 30 may measure a position of the reticle R in the X-direction and the amount of yawing in a real time manner. A fixed mirror or referencemirror 32 for the laser interferometer 30 is fixed at the upper end of the lens barrel of projection optical system PL.

An image of pattern formed in a transfer region, for example a rectangular region, of reticle R is imaged on a wafer W after reduced to one-fifth thereof by the projection optical system PL. The wafer W is held together with a reference markplate FM by a wafer holder 16 which is rotatable by a small amount and inclinable at an arbitrary angle. The wafer holder 16 is disposed on a Z-stage, which is movable by a small amount in a direction of the optical axis AX or the Z-direction of theprojection optical system PL. The Z-stage 17 is mounted on an X,Y-stage 18 which is two-dimensional moveable in the X- and the Y-directions in the step and repeat method, and the X,Y-stage 18 is driven by a drive system 52. Further, a laserinterferometer 33 measures a coordinate position and a yawing amount of the X,Y-stage 18. A fixed mirror or reference mirror 34 for the laser interferometer 33 is fixed at the lower end of the lens barrel of the projection optical system, and a moveablemirror 35 is fixed at one edge of the Z-stage 17. Since the projection magnification is one fifth in this embodiment, a moving velocity Vws of the X,Y-stage is set at one fifth of a velocity Vrs of the reticle stage in the X-direction 14 upon scanexposure.

Also in the present embodiment, there are provided an alignment system 40, which employs a TTR (Through-The-Reticle) method to detect an alignment mark or reference mark FM on the wafer W through the reticle R and the projection optical systemPL, and an alignment system 41, which employs a TTL (Through-The-Lens) method to detect an alignment mark or reference mark on the wafer W through the projection optical system at a position below the reticle R. These alignment systems 40, 41 performrelative alignment of the reticle R and the wafer W before start of S and S exposure or during the scan exposure. If the reference mark FM is a light emitting type, a photoelectric sensor 42 as shown in FIG. 1 receives the light from the mark throughthe projection optical system PL, the reticle R, the condenser lens 13, the lens system 11, 9 and the beam spitter 8, whereby defining a position of the reticle R in the coordinate system of the X,Y-stage 18 or defining a position of detection center ofthe respective alignment systems 40, 41. It should be noted that these alignment systems are not always essential to the present invention.

As the length of the aperture AP of the blind mechanism 10 is made longer in the Y-direction perpendicular to the scan direction or X-direction, the number of scannings in the X-direction or the number of steppings in the Y-direction on the waferW may be reduced. However, the length of the aperture AP in the Y-direction might better be changed by the edges of the blades BL.sub.3, BL.sub.4 depending on size, shape, and arrangement of chip pattern on the reticle R. A preferred example is that thefacing edges of the blades BL.sub.3, BL.sub.4 coincide with street lines dividing the shot area on the wafer W. It is easy for this arrangement to adjust the length of aperture in correspondence with a size change in the Y-direction of shot area. If alength in the Y-direction of one shot area is over the maximum length of the aperture AP in the Y-direction, overlay exposure should be effected in the shot area to obtain seamless exposure as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,924,257. Since the methoditself is not always essential to the present invention, detailed explanation thereof is omitted.

Below explained with reference to FIG. 3A are the wafer holder 16 inclinable at an arbitrary angle, and neighbors thereof. A motor 21 is provided at the Z-stage 17, on the X,Y-stage 18 to drive the Z-stage 17 in the direction of the optical axisAX. The wafer holder 16 is mounted on the Z-stage 17 with its center being supported. Leveling drive selection 20A, 20B are provided at periphery of the wafer holder 16, so that the wafer W on the holder 16 may be inclined at an arbitrary angle. Theleveling mechanism is disclosed for instance in U.S. Pat. No. 4,770,531, so detailed explanation of the leveling mechanism is omitted.

A focus and leveling sensor is provided to control the inclination angle of the wafer W, which is constructed by a light projection 19A emitting an optical flux BPL of a wave length different from that of the exposure light and a light receiver19B receiving an optical flux BRL, which is the optical flux BPL reflected by the wafer surface. A focus point, of the optical flux BPL from the focus and leveling sensor is coincident with a line including a point through which the optical axis of theprojection optical system PL passes on the wafer W. An example of the focus and leveling sensor is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,558,949. Thus detailed explanation is omitted.

The leveling drive sections 20A, 20B are driven by a command from a leveling control system 53 to determine an inclination amount of wafer holder 16, based on leveling information from the light receiver 19B and information from the main controlsection 100. With constant feed back of leveling information from the light receiver 19B, a proper inclination angle of the wafer W may be maintained. Further, focus information could be obtained to always locate an intersection with the optical axisAX on the wafer W on the best imaging plane of the projection optical system, with the information from the focus and leveling sensor. In this case, the motor 21 is driven by a command from the Z-stage control system 54 based on position informationobtained by the light receiver 19B, to drive the Z-stage 17 in the direction of the optical axis AX.

The optical flux BPL is radiated on the wafer W as a slit light SLI inclined by 45.degree. with respect to the rectangular illumination area AP' defined by the aperture AP of the blind as shown in FIG. 3B. By this, the position and theinclination of the wafer W in the Z-direction may be controlled without influence from the directionality of circuit pattern in the chip area CP.sub.1 -CP.sub.4 already formed on the wafer W. Although there is shown only two points of the leveling drivesection for explanation, it is no doubt that drive on three points is better.

In the focus and leveling sensor as disclosed in the above-mentioned U.S. Pat. No. 4,558,949, parallel optical fluxes occupying a determined ara are impinged on the wafer surface, and reflection optical flux from the wafer surface isphotoelectrically detected, for example using a quartered photodetector, to detect the inclination or the leveling information of the wafer surface. Then, a variable field stop may be disposed inside the light projector 19A as disclosed for example inU.S. Pat. No. 4,902,900, to adjust the size and the shape of illumination area of parallel optical fluxes on the wafer surface, so that the size and the shape of the illumination area or detection area of the parallel optical fluxes on the wafersurface is desirably made almost coincident with the rectangular illumination area AP' defined by the aperture AP of the blind. By this, an average inclination of a local area in the shot region on the wafer W corresponding to the rectangularillumination area AP' may be effectively detected, the inclination amount of the wafer surface or wafer holder 16 may be controlled with a higher precision.

An operation of the preferred embodiment of the projection exposure apparatus will be below explained. The main control section 100 totally dominates the sequence and control of the operation as shown in FIG. 1. A fundamental operation of themain control section 100 is that, based on inputs of position information and yawing information from the laser interferometer 30, 33 and on inputs of speed information from a tachogenerator or the like in the drive systems 51, 52, reticle pattern andthe wafer pattern in one shot area are relatively moved within a determined alignment error of the relative position while keeping a determined ratio of speed of the recticle stage 14 and the X,Y-stage 18 upon scan exposure. In addition to thefundamental operation, the main control section 100 of the present embodiment is characterized in that the best imaging plane or the best focal plane of the projection optical system PL (projection image plane of transfer region of the reticle) isinclined relative to the shot area on the wafer W, the central part of transfer region (corresponding to illumination area AP') on the shot area is always located at or near the best imaging plane or best focus position of the projection optical systemPL, and thereby the focus condition of pattern image of reticle is continuously or discretely changed with correspondence to a position in the illumination area in the one-dimensional scan direction during the scan exposure, by controlling the levelingcontrol system 53 and the Z-stage control system 54 together.

FIGS. 4A-4C schematically show a method for exposure using the projection exposure apparatus of the preferred embodiment according to the present invention. Positions 1-9 in a circuit pattern IR on the reticle R correspond to positions 1-9 onthe wafer W, respectively. The wafer W is inclined relative to the pattern IR. The circuit pattern IR is displayed just above the wafer W, and a projection ratio of the circuit pattern IR is 1 on the wafer W for convenience of explanation. In thedrawings, there are three optical fluxes LR, LC, LL shown out of the exposure flux defined by the single aperture AP. The optical flux LR, LL of the three are defined by the blades BL.sub.1, BL.sub.2 as shown in FIG. 2, and symmetrically arranged beforeand after the optical axis AX in the scan exposure direction. The width between the optical fluxes LR and LL corresponds to a width of the aperture AX in the X-direction, representing illumination range of exposure flux in the scanning direction. Theintensity of exposure flux is uniform in this illumination range. The optical flux LC has a main light beam passing through the center of the illumination range of exposure flux. The main light beam corresponds to the optical axis AX of the projectionoptical system PL. The best imaging plane of the projection optical system PL is shown by a broken line BF.

The scan exposure is controlled such that the X,Y-stage 18 is driven in the X-direction and the Z-stage 17 is simultaneously driven in the direction of the optical axis AX, to always locate the approximate center in the illumination area of thewafer W (corresponding to the approximate center of illumination range of exposure flux) on the best imaging plane BF of the projection optical system PL. If the width of illumination area AP' on the wafer W is defined as D.sub.ap, the inclination anglebetween the illumination area AP' on the wafer W and the best imaging plane BF as .theta..sub.1, and a width in the optical axis of the depth of focus of the projection optical system PL (DOF) as .DELTA.Z.sub.f, at least one of the depth D.sub.ap of theillumination area and inclination angle .theta..sub.1 is adjusted to satisfy the following relation: D.sub.ap.sin .theta..sub.1.gtoreq..DELTA.Z.sub.f. A theoretical depth of focus is normally given by an equation .DELTA..sub.Z.sub.f =.lambda./NA.sup.2,where .lambda. is an exposure wave length, and NA is a numerical aperture of projection optical system.

A positional relation of wafer W and pattern IR to the exposure flux just after the scan exposure start is shown in FIG. 4A. Noting the position 2 in the circuit pattern IR, it is just entered within the illumination range of exposure flux. However, an image at the position 2 on the wafer W is in a condition of defocussing and the distribution of intensity of projection image has a gentle peak. FIG. 4B shows a condition after further scan exposure, in which the position 2 on the wafer W islocated on the best imaging plane BF. In this condition, the image at the position 2 is in the best focus condition, presenting a steep peak in the intensity distribution of image. When the wafer is moved as shown in FIG. 4C, the position 2 is in thecondition of defocussing opposite to the condition as shown in FIG. 4A, again showing a gentle peak in the intensity distribution of image.

FIG. 5 shows a distribution of exposure amount in the direction of the optical axis AX or in the Z-direction at the position 2 on the wafer W by the above-described scan exposure or uniform rate scan. The exposure amount at the position 2 isuniform in the Z-directional range of D.sub.ap.sin .theta..sub.1 (the depth of focus DOF). FIGS. 6A and 6B show resultant distributions of intensity of image at the position 2. The intensity distributions ER, EC, EL in FIG. 6A represent intensities ofimages obtained from the optical fluxes LR, LC, LL, respectively. A distribution of intensity E as shown in FIG. 6B represents an integration of image intensity obtained from exposure flux of fluxes LR, LC, LL. Since the position 2 receives the opticalfluxes (optical energy) while in the illumination range of exposure flux, the integrated intensity distribution E shows a gentle peak. As seen in FIG. 6B, a width in which the intensity is over an exposure amount E.sub.th enough to effectphotosensitizing of photo resist on the wafer W, i.e., to completely remove the photo resist, becomes relatively broad, accordingly.

In order to narrow the width W, there may be provided at least two peaks in the one-dimensional scan direction of scan exposure in the distribution of intensity of rectangular illumination flux. For example, as shown in FIG. 7, the reticle blindmechanism may be arranged to have such a structure that a central portion of the aperture AP is intercepted (double slit aperture). It may be achieved by providing the blade BL.sub.4 of the four blades of the blind mechanism 10 with a Y-directionallyextending interception branch to intercept light in a determined width in the X-direction at the center of the aperture AP. In case of use of such blind mechanism, the exposure amount in the direction of the optical axis AX or in the Z-direction isdistributed as shown in FIG. 8 at the position 2 on the wafer W by the scan exposure or uniform rate scan. The exposure at the position 2 shows two identical intensity ranges located near the both ends of the Z-directional range of D.sub.ap.sin.theta..sub.1 (depth of focus DOF). By this arrangement, only the optical fluxes LR, LL in the exposure fluxes as shown in FIG. 4 possibly have intensities in the distribution.

FIGS. 9A and 9B show distributions of intensity of image obtained at an arbitrary position, for example at the position 2 as above described, on the wafer W when the scan exposure of uniform rate scan is conducted by using such optical fluxes. The intensity distributions ER', EL' as shown in FIG. 9A are distributions of intensity of images given by the optical fluxes LR, LL, respectively. An intensity distribution E' as shown in FIG. 9B is an integration of the intensity distributions ER',EL'. The intensity distribution E' shows a steeper peak than that as shown in FIG. 6B. A width W' in which the intensity is over the exposure amount E.sub.th enough to effect photosensitizing of photo resist on the wafer W to completely remove it, isnarrower than the width W as shown in FIG. 6B.

Furthermore, three peaks may be employed in the one-dimensional scan direction of scan exposure in a distribution of intensity of rectangular illumination flux. For this purpose, a reticle bind mechanism is provided with blades with three slitsin the aperture. FIG. 10 shows a distribution of exposure in the direction of optical axis AX at the position 2 on the wafer W by the similar scan exposure. At the position 2, three regions in the Z-direction have almost identical intensities ofexposure, one near the best imaging plane BP, and two near the both ends of the Z-directional range of D.sub.ap.multidot.sin .theta..sub.1 (depth of focus DOF). Therefore, exposure flux reaching the wafer W includes fluxes corresponding to the opticalfluxes LR, LC, LL, as shown in FIGS. 4A-4C. The optical fluxes LR, LL are symmetrical with respect to the optical flux LC having the same optical axis AX of the projection optical system. In case of scan exposure with the flux with three peaks in thedistribution of intensity of the illumination range, a distribution of intensity of image projected onto the wafer W shows a steeper peak than the distribution of intensity E as shown in FIG. 6B. A width of projected image will be narrower than thewidth W as shown in FIG. 6B, accordingly,

Comparing two slits and three slits in the one-dimensional direction of scan exposure in the intensity distribution of rectangular illumination flux if the optical intensity of illumination flux is almost identical, exposure with three slitsallows faster moving speed of the X,Y-stage and gives a higher throughput. This is opposite to the successive focussing exposure method conventionally known in U.S. Pat. No. 4,869,999.

In the above examples, the blades of the bind mechanism have a light intercepting portion. In another arrangement, the same effect may be obtained by an interception member such as ND filter having dimensions and shape corresponding to a regionto be intercepted at a position conjugate to the circuit pattern IR in the optical path. Furthermore, although the wafer surface is inclined before the scan exposure in the above examples, the inclination of the wafer holder 16 may be controlledtogether with the Z-directional position of the wafer surface by using detection information of the focus and leveling sensor at the time of scan exposure start.

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