KLA‘s patented method involves using machine learning to analyze images of semiconductor die layers, defining regions for structures in different layers, and calculating overlay offsets. This innovative approach enhances semiconductor manufacturing processes. GlobalData’s report on KLA gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

According to GlobalData’s company profile on KLA, Defect detection models was a key innovation area identified from patents. KLA's grant share as of April 2024 was 58%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Overlay offset calculation in semiconductor die using machine learning

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: KLA Corp

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11967058B2) outlines a method for calculating overlay offsets between structures in different process layers of a semiconductor die. The method involves obtaining an image of the die, defining regions using machine learning that include structures in each process layer, and then calculating the overlay offset between these structures. The patent details the use of scanning electron microscope (SEM) images and the process of calculating the separation between defined regions, which can be represented as boxes bounding the structures in each layer. Additionally, the method includes detecting edges of structures within the defined regions to accurately calculate the overlay offset.

Furthermore, the patent extends to a computer-readable storage medium storing programs for executing the method and a system comprising a scanning electron microscope, processors, and memory for executing the programs. The system allows for obtaining SEM images of semiconductor die portions, defining regions using machine learning, and calculating overlay offsets between structures in different process layers. The patent emphasizes the use of machine learning classifiers to define regions accurately and the training of these classifiers using annotated SEM images. Overall, the patent provides a detailed and innovative approach to calculating overlay offsets in semiconductor manufacturing processes, potentially improving accuracy and efficiency in the industry.

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GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.