Multi-Surface Inspection System uses cluster architecture.

Press Release Summary:

Offering full color, image-based inspection with real-time capture capability, Explorer(TM) Inspection Cluster uses adaptive wafer scheduling and offers flexible configurability. Individual systems can be configured with any combination of wafer backside and edge inspection capabilities to suit application. Designed for macro inspection, system is built on automated handling platform that supports 2 loadports and 3 independently configurable inspection/measurement modules.

Original Press Release:

Rudolph's New Explorer Family Brings Cluster Architecture to Multi-Surface Inspection Tools

Adaptive wafer scheduling, flexible configuration and high throughput reduce cost-of-ownership

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (July 16, 2007)-Rudolph Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: RTEC), a worldwide leader in high-performance process control metrology, defect inspection and data analysis for the semiconductor manufacturing industry, today announced the rollout of its new Explorer(TM) Inspection Cluster-a family of multi-surface inspection tools designed to deliver fast, accurate and reliable macro inspection at a low cost-of-ownership. The new tool is featured at this week's semiconductor manufacturing industry trade show, SEMICON® West, in San Francisco.

Adopting the cluster concept from wafer processing tools, the Explorer System uses adaptive wafer scheduling, flexible configurations and high throughput to significantly reduce cost-of-ownership. It will permit individual systems to be configured with any combination of wafer front, back, and edge inspection capabilities, allowing the user to select the best match for a particular application.

The first Explorer Inspection Cluster, featuring wafer edge and backside inspection modules, is scheduled to ship in July 2007 to a leading semiconductor manufacturer for production monitoring of the immersion lithography process. Initial Explorer Systems will be configured for edge and backside inspection, and targeted for high-volume production applications in advanced processes, such as immersion lithography, copper CMP and high-k dielectrics―where edge and backside defectivity mechanisms are known to critically impact process yields.

"The Explorer leverages raw speed with efficiency," said Ardy Johnson, Rudolph Technologies' vice president of marketing. "Its intelligent, adaptive wafer scheduling can route wafers from different incoming lots among multiple inspection modules to provide the specific results needed for a given application in the shortest possible time. Valuable time and resources are not wasted on unnecessary inspection steps. In addition, independently configurable inspection modules let users mix and match throughput and inspection type to best fit specific requirements-again, it is not necessary to invest in unneeded capability or capacity."

The Explorer family is built on Rudolph's automated handling platform, supporting two industry-standard loadports and up to three independently-configurable inspection/measurement modules. Future models of the Explorer will be based on a four-loadport configuration capable of supporting up to five modules. Modules may be shut down individually for maintenance without taking the entire system down. Windows®- based software supports offline recipe creation and remote monitoring.

The first Explorer System will include edge and backside inspection capability with full color, image-based inspection allowing accurate defect classification and fast root cause analysis. Real-time image capture and storage eliminates the need to revisit most defects. Through a combination of real-time binning, automatic wafer-level defect classification and spatial pattern recognition, customers can quickly reduce the number of point defects to be reviewed.

Rudolph Technologies is a worldwide leader in the design, development, manufacture and support of high-performance process control metrology, defect inspection and data analysis systems used by semiconductor device manufacturers. Rudolph provides a full-fab solution through its families of proprietary products that provide critical yield-enhancing information, enabling microelectronic device manufacturers to drive down costs and time to market. The company has enhanced the competitiveness of its products in the marketplace by anticipating and addressing many emerging trends driving the semiconductor industry's growth. Rudolph's strategy for continued technological and market leadership includes aggressive research and development of complementary metrology and inspection solutions. Headquartered in Flanders, New Jersey, Rudolph supports its customers with a worldwide sales and service organization. Additional information can be found on the company's web site at

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