STC.UNM v. Intel Corporation
BRIEF - STC'S INITIAL CLAIM CONSTRUCTION BRIEF by STC. UNM (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1 - (Part 1) Annotated '998 Patent, # 2 Exhibit 1 - (Part 2) Annotated '998 Patent, # 3 Exhibit 1 - (Part 3) Annotated '998 Patent, # 4 Exhibit 1 - (Part 4) Annotated '998 Patent, # 5 Exhibit 2 - (Part 1) Declaration of Dr. Chris Mack, # 6 Exhibit 2 - (Part 2) Declaration of Dr. Chris Mack)(Pedersen, Steven)
Declaration of Dr. Chris Mack
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO
Civil No. 1:10-cv-01077-RB-WDS
DECLARATION OF DR. CHRIS MACK
I, Chris Mack, under penalty of perjury, state as follows:
1. I have been retained by STC as a technical expert in the field of lithography, and have
provided assistance to STC in developing its constructions for the claim terms of the ‘998
patent. I received my Ph.D from the University of Texas at Austin in 1998. For the past
twenty eight years I have worked in the field of lithography in various capacities, including
work for the federal government, private industry, and academia. In that time I have trained
more than 2,500 lithographers from over 200 different companies around the world. I am
currently an adjunct faculty member in the Electrical and Computer Engineering and
Chemical Engineering Departments of the University of Texas at Austin. More information
on my background can be found in my CV, which is attached as Exhibit A.
The Technology at Issue
2. Lithography advancements have been a driving force that allows for the fabrication of ever
smaller components, e.g., transistors, on semiconductor chips. The smaller the transistors, the
more there are that can be packed on a chip, and the more powerful the chip. Today’s
semiconductors are made with minimum feature sizes of 32nm (22nm coming soon). For
comparison, a human hair is about 60,000nm in diameter.
3. Semiconductor chips are made on silicon wafers. One wafer can contain over 300 billion
transistors, and hundreds of chips are cut from a finished wafer. A semiconductor wafer is
comprised of many layers. At the most basic level, the transistors are made first in
semiconductive material, then the metal and insulating layers (the wires interconnecting
features and circuit elements) are made on top of the transistors.
4. Lithography is used to pattern the various layers. First, a layer of photoresist is “spun” onto
the wafer. Photoresist material is sensitive to light and allows for the transfer of an image
through what is basically a photographic exposure process. In this process, laser light is used
to expose a pattern on the photoresist. After the photoresist is exposed, portions of it become
soluble and are washed away in developer. The pattern in the photoresist is then transferred
by etching into the underlying layer.
5. Due to basic scientific principles that govern the physics of light, the lithography equipment
that is used in current manufacturing processes has limitations. Those limitations prevent the
manufacture of features smaller than about 37nm in dimension. In simple terms, the physics
of light do not provide for sufficient resolution to make sub 37nm patterns on the wafer in the
basic lithography sequence described above, using lithography manufacturing equipment
available today. The invention disclosed in the ‘998 patent provides for a lithographic
technique known as “double patterning” that allows for the extension to smaller feature
dimensions and improved pattern quality. In this way, it is possible to fit a greater number of
features on a wafer.
6. Much in the same way that sound can be described as being made up of frequency waves, the
coordinates of two- and three- dimensional spatial objects can be described mathematically in
frequency space. All physical objects, including the ultra-small transistors of a chip, can be
described mathematically in frequency space. Those incredibly tiny features have spatial
frequencies that correspond to their geometrical shape and distance from one another.
7. This technical term has a common understanding to those skilled in the art of lithography.
The specification uses this term in a manner consistent with this common understanding.
8. One of ordinary skill in the art would review the teachings of the specification and conclude
that the inventors used spatial frequencies to mathematically represent the physical patterns
that were being created by the patented methods. This is evidenced by the Fourier transform
equations disclosed in columns 12, 13 and 16 of the patent.
9. Intel’s proposed construction, on the other hand, is unnecessarily limiting in that it only
applies to repeating patterns. One of ordinary skill in the art would appreciate that spatial
frequencies can be applied to isolated, non-repeating patterns just as well as to repeating
patterns. STC’s construction is compatible with such non-repeating patterns, but Intel’s
proposed construction is not.
10. Thus, the proper construction of this term is “a mathematical representation of a pattern.
Technically defined, spatial frequencies are the coordinates in the Fourier plane resulting
from the Fourier transform of the features that have been patterned.”
High Spatial Frequencies
11. This claim term has a specific meaning in the context of the ‘998 patent and is properly
construed in light of the teachings of the patent specification.
12. The magnitudes of “high spatial frequencies” are defined by two parameters in the ‘998
patent (1) frequencies found in the final pattern, but that are not present in either the first or
second exposure, and (2) frequencies that are beyond the limits of the lithography equipment.
Support for these two important parameters are set forth in the Abstract, Field of the
Invention, and Summary of the Invention sections of the '998 patent. See Abstract; 1:66-2:7;
13. Hallmarks of high spatial frequencies, as defined by the ‘998 Patent, include sharper corners,
smaller feature sizes, or higher pattern density. Examples from the specification include:
The quality of an image is limited by the spatial frequencies within the image.
* * *
Thus, decreasing λ and increasing NA typically results in increased spatial
frequency content and in an improved, higher resolution image. 2:17-18
* * *
Historically, the semiconductor industry has worked to both decrease λ and
increase NA in its steady progress towards smaller feature sizes. 2:28-30
* * *
FIG. 11E shows a concept drawing of how the aforementioned frequency
doubling technique might be applied to a circuit pattern, . . . changing the design
to a CD grid would allow a straightforward doubling of the pattern density.
18:18-26 (emphasis added).
* * *
FIG. 6B, namely rectangles with sharp, well-defined comers (12:59-60)
* * *
While the image is significantly closer to the desired pattern than the incoherent
imaging results, there is still significant rounding of the corners of the printed
features due to the unavailability of the spatial frequencies needed to provide
sharp corners. 7:26-30 (emphasis added).
14. Intel’s construction seems designed to exclude an important embodiment of the ‘998 Patent,
one that is discussed at great length in the specification. Further, Intel’s construction
unnecessarily limits the application of spatial frequencies to dense patterns, so that the term
“high spatial frequencies” is limited to only increases in the density of the pattern.
15. When describing a prior art method of forming patterns, the ‘998 Patent states
“… there is still significant rounding of the corners of the printed features due to the
unavailability of the spatial frequencies needed to provide sharp corners. That is,
the magnitudes of the spatial frequencies necessary to define these corners are
greater than 2/λ, the limit of a linear optical system.” (‘998 Patent, 7:28-33)
16. Intel’s construction specifically excludes this important result of “high spatial frequencies”:
spatial frequencies greater than the optical system could produce result in corners that are
less rounded and more square.
17. Further in the specification, the prior art method of using two exposures without the nonlinear (thresholding) processing step in between is described as producing rounded corners:
“Because the intensities are added before the thresholding operation is applied, the
resulting shapes exhibit significant rounding of the comers and are substantially
elliptical rather than rectangular.” (‘998 Patent, 9:19-23)
18. Further, the specification makes clear that sharp corners are an important goal of the
“In contrast to the prior art methods which typically yield rounded corners on the
structures as shown in FIG. 6A, the present invention suitably yields the patterns
shown in FIG. 6B, namely rectangles with sharp, well-defined corners.” (‘998
19. Thus, Intel’s claim construction will read out the embodiment illustrated in Figure 6B. In
general, features with sharper corners can be placed closer together, so that making shaper
corners can also be used to improve pattern density. Note, however, that the density of
features shown in Figs. 6A (the prior art method) and 6B (the present invention) are the
same. The only difference is in the sharpness of the corners.
20. Thus, the proper construction of this term is “The final pattern resulting from the below
method steps have spatial frequencies (1) that are not present in any of the individual
exposures, and (2) whose magnitudes are larger than the limit of the linear optical system
response, resulting in sharper corners, smaller features, or higher pattern density.”
Combining Nonlinear Functions of Intensity of at Least Two Exposures Combined With at
Least One Nonlinear Processing Step Intermediate Between the Two Exposures
21. A person of ordinary skill in the art would properly understand this term based on the
intrinsic evidence and a mathematical understanding of the word “function.”
22. A mathematical function, by definition, has an output that depends on an input (the function
assigns exactly one output to each input). For example, the mathematical functions sine and
cosine have input variables, and outputs. Mathematical functions can, of course, be applied to
real-world applications. An exemplary textbook reference providing such examples is
attached hereto as Exhibit B, Calculus, Concept and Contexts, James Stewart, pp. 11-21
(2010) (discussing population as a function of time, etc.).
23. In the context of the “functions of intensity of at least two exposures” the claimed function is
the exposure and subsequent processing (e.g., development) of photoresist. The input is the
light energy that affects chemical change to the photoresist, and the output is the pattern
formed in the resist. The input of the claimed exposure function, light energy, is used to
affect change to the photoresist layer, which results in the output of a pattern.
24. The ‘998 patent describes the combination of the two output patterns as the combination of
two input functions, and provides an example of combining the mathematical functions with
multiplication at column 12, line 22 through column 13, line 14 (see also 16:8-33).
25. Intel’s construction falls short as it does not specify that the output of the exposure function
is a pattern, which is what the entire ‘998 patent is about, i.e., the formation and combination
26. Thus, the proper construction of this term is “combining the patterns that were formed in the
two exposed photoresists, and having a non-linear process step, for example, development of
the first resist, after the first exposure and before the second exposure.”
[First/Second] Pattern in Said [First/Second] Photoresist Layer
27. A person of ordinary skill in the art would properly understand this term based on an
examination of the plain language of the claim and specification.
28. The inventors described the patterns used by the claimed method as “shapes” at column 9,
29. Thus, the proper construction of this term is “shape(s) resulting from developing the
First Mask Material
30. A person of ordinary skill in the art would properly understand this term based on the plain
language of the claim and the intrinsic evidence.
31. Hardmask materials were known to those skilled in the art at the time of the ‘998 Patent.
What is unique to the ‘998 patent invention is the use that the hardmask is put to: preserving
the first pattern so that it can be later combined with the second pattern in a combined mask
through the use of the first mask material (which is commonly referred to as a hardmask).
This is reflected in the plain language of the claim:
transferring said first pattern into said first mask material, said first mask material
comprising at least one of SiO2, Si3 N4, a metal, a polysilicon and a polymer;
transferring said first pattern and said second pattern into said substrate using a
combined mask including parts of said first mask layer and said second photoresist;
Thus, the construction of the claim term “first mask material” should reflect this usage.
32. The specification is also consistent with this meaning. The ‘998 Patent clearly illustrates the
use of the first mask material as a method of preserving the first pattern for later use in the
combined mask. Figs. 7, 8, 9 and 10 all illustrate the use of a hardmask (the first mask
material) in order to preserve the first pattern after the first photoresist has been stripped
away. When the second pattern is combined with the first pattern preserved in the first mask
material, a combined mask results. See also column 12, lines 15-22.
33. Intel’s proposed definition is vague as it defines “mask material” in the negative by merely
defining what it is not.
Parts of Said First Mask Layer
34. This claim term is properly construed in light of the plain language of the larger claim term
“transferring said first pattern and said second pattern into said substrate using a combined
mask including parts of said first mask layer and said second photoresist,” and the
35. First, the larger claim term makes clear that what is being combined in the combined mask
are patterns: “transferring said first pattern and said second pattern into said substrate using
a combined mask . . .”
36. Consistent with the plain claim language, the specification teaches that the combined mask
is a combination of two "patterns." And, consistent with all other aspects of the invention, the
patent provides the mathematical detail of how the patterns are combined.
Together the two mask patterns provide a multiplication of the individual images
. . . (‘998 Patent, at 13:23-29).
* * *
Finally, FIG. 8C shows an exemplary result of multiplying the two patterns to get
the final result, thereby showing the dramatic improvement in the profiles. (‘998
Patent, at 13:45-47).
* * *
Thus, in a preferred embodiment, the combined etch mask provides the
multiplication operation. (‘998 Patent, at 14:13-15).
See also 15:63-16:10 (mathematically combining two patterns by addition).
37. Thus, the proper construction of this term is “some or all of the first pattern from the first
Combined Mask Including Parts of Said First Mask Layer and Said Second Photoresist
38. A person of ordinary skill in the art would properly understand this term in light of the plain
language of the claim, and the teachings in the specification.
39. First, as mentioned above, the larger claim term makes clear that what is being combined in
the combined mask are patterns: “transferring said first pattern and said second pattern into
said substrate using a combined mask . . .”
40. The specification is also consistent with STC’s construction. Figure 7 is an “experimental
realization” that teaches an embodiment where the “combined mask” consists of the pattern
(i.e., the first mask layer) (nitride) and the pattern from the second photoresist layer, and an
embodiment where the second photoresist is not physically present in the combined mask
when the final pattern is transferred. (‘998 Patent, at 13:23-20).
41. Figure 8 teaches an embodiment where the second photoresist is not physically present when
the final pattern is transferred through the use of a combined mask. (‘998 Patent, at 13:32-51.
42. Figure 9 teaches an embodiment where the first pattern is transferred into a hard mask, and
the second photoresist is not physically present in the combined mask. (‘998 Patent, at 15:56
43. Not only is Intel’s proposed construction of this claim term unsupported by the intrinsic
evidence of the ‘988 Patent, it in fact reads out important embodiments of the invention.
Consider first the embodiment depicted in Fig. 8, reproduced below.
44. Fig. 8A shows the results of a first exposure and development of photoresist to form a pattern
of long lines and spaces.
“FIG. 8A shows an exemplary result of suitably applying a thresholding nonlinearity
to a simple two-beam interferometric lithography exposure with a CD of 130 nm and
a pitch of 260 nm.” (‘988 Patent, 13:34-37).
Figure 8B shows a pattern of oblong resist pillars.
“FIG. 8B shows an exemplary pattern obtained from a conventional (incoherent
illumination) optical lithography exposure of the mask corresponding to FIG. 1”
(‘988 Patent, 13:37-40).
Figure 8C shows the results of combining the two patterns of Figs. 8A and 8B in one
embodiment of the invention.
“Finally, FIG. 8C shows an exemplary result of multiplying the two patterns to get
the final result, thereby showing the dramatic improvement in the profiles.” (‘988
45. Figure 1 is described as the pattern that is being fabricated using the steps depicted in Fig. 8.
“FIGS. 8A-8C show exemplary results from a similar calculation for the
prototypical array structure of FIG. 1.” (‘988 Patent, 13:32-33)
46. Note that this figure uses the same illustrative style of clear rectangular regions surrounded
by a speckled area. The description of Fig. 1 found earlier in the patent makes the nature of
this pattern clear.
“…FIG. 1 shows a prototypical array structure that might be part of a ultra-largescale integrated circuit, particularly a circuit with a large degree of repetitiveness
such as a memory chip or a programmable logic array. The dimensional units are
in terms of the critical dimension (CD-smallest resolved image dimension) which
is defined in the semiconductor industry roadmap. The industry goals for the CDs
are 130 nm in 2003 and 100 nm in 2006. For easy comparison, the modeling
examples given herein are all for the 130-nm CD generation. The pattern consists
of staggered bars each 1x2 CD2. The repetitive cell is demarked by the dotted
lines and is 6x6 CD2.” (‘988 Patent, 6:50-51, emphasis added)
The clear rectangular regions of Fig. 1 are described as “staggered bars”. Thus, the clear white
region is not a hole in the surrounding material, but rather a bar of the material sitting atop the
substrate. It is obvious, then, that the final pattern shown in Fig. 8C is also a pattern of staggered
bars of material (white regions) sitting on top of a substrate (speckled region). Likewise, in Figs.
8A and 8B the white regions represent photoresist material and the speckled regions are the
material that the resist is sitting on top of.
47. With this understanding of the meaning of Fig. 8, it will be clear from the discussion below
that STC’s construction of the claim term “combined mask including parts of said first mask
layer and said second photoresist” is compatible with the embodiment shown in Fig. 8, while
Intel’s claim construction will read out this embodiment.
48. Applying the steps of claim 6 to the process of fabricating the final pattern in Fig. 8C, a first
photoresist layer is coated, exposed and developed to form the patterns of lines and spaces
shown in Fig. 8A (white region is the remaining resist after development). This pattern
would then be etched into the underlying hardmask and the photoresist stripped away. Thus,
the resulting hardmask pattern would also look like the pattern shown in Fig. 8A with the
white regions representing the remaining hardmask material. Then, a second photoresist
would be coated, exposed and developed to form the pattern of Fig. 8B, with white regions
representing the photoresist remaining after development. The result at this point would look
that shown below, where here the hardmask material is depicted as green and the photoresist
material is depicted as orange.
49. The details of the remaining steps are different under the two parties’ claim constructions.
Under the STC construction, it would be obvious that the final pattern of Fig. 8C would be
produced if the second photoresist pattern were etched into the hardmask, resulting in a
“multiplying” of the two resist patterns. Only the portions of the hardmask covered by the
resist would remain. After the resist is stripped, the resulting pattern would look like Fig. 8C.
50. Under Intel’s construction, however, a multiplying of the two patterns would not be possible.
Instead, only addition of the two patterns is possible. If the “combined mask” of Intel’s
construction were transferred into the substrate, the final pattern would look like the image
51. There is no way to produce the pattern shown in Fig. 8C using Intel’s construction. Thus,
Intel’s construction is not compatible with the embodiment depicted in Fig. 8. In fact, Intel’s
construction is not compatible with the idea of a combined mask that is the multiplication of
the two individual patterns. Since the multiplication of patterns is clearly described as an
important result of the invention of the ‘988 Patent, Intel’s claim construction is completely
incompatible with the intrinsic evidence found in the specification of the ‘988 patent.
52. Another example of where the Intel construction of the term “combined mask including parts
of said first mask layer and said second photoresist” is unnecessarily limiting can be seen in
Fig. 7. Here, an “experimental realization” is shown up to the patterning of the second
photoresist layer. First, a wafer is coated with the hardmask material and a first photoresist
“A Si wafer was coated with a thin Si3N4 film and with a first photoresist layer.” (‘988
Next a pattern of lines and spaces are printed in the resist and etched into the hardmask.
“A two-beam interferometric exposure was used to define a line:space array in this
first photoresist layer. The pattern was developed, transferred into the nitride film,
and the remaining photoresist removed.” (‘988 Patent, 13:16-19)
Next, a second pattern of lines and spaces, perpendicular to the first, is imaged into a second
photoresist layer on top of the previously patterned hardmask.
“A second photoresist layer was then applied to the wafer and a second two-beam
interferometric exposure, substantially at right angles to the first exposure pattern, was
suitably applied and developed.” (‘988 Patent, 13:21-24)
53. The resulting pattern at this stage is shown in Fig. 7B. A diagrammatic view is shown below,
where the substrate is in blue, the hardmask is green, and the second photoresist is shown in
54. Here, the difference in construction between Intel and STC provides very different options as
to how the patterns from the first and second photoresist layers can be combined. According
to Intel’s construction, the patterns can only be added, so that an etching of the “combined
mask” into the substrate will result in square holes etched in the regions of the substrate not
protected by hard mask or the second photoresist layer. Thus, addition of the two patterns
produces an “or” pattern as a result – an array of square holes.
55. STC’s construction certainly allows for this possibility, but also allows for the multiplication
of the two patterns, where only those portions of the substrate protected by both the
hardmask and the photoresist remain after etching. By etching the second resist pattern into
the hard mask, square pillars of hardmask will remain after the second photoresist is
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