Devices for detecting and measuring small particles

Subsurface scanning probe-microscopy

Modern technologies are used to measure and maintain microscopic surfaces, and keep them free of dirt. We measure defects with scanning probe microscopy and detect the smallest particles with our special scanner, the Rapid Nano.

Measuring defects with scanning probe microscopy

Scanning probe microscopy (SPM) can measure small defects on a surface. It’s one of the technologies used to obtain a 3D image of the atomic structure of a substrate. Our SPM technology enables you to operate a large number of miniaturised SPM heads on a relatively large sample, such as a wafer or mask. This represents a groundbreaking increase in SPM throughput speed.

Essential technology

SPM is essential because this technology can meet increasingly stringent metrological and inspection requirements. The production of 1X nanometre nodes requires defects of less than 10 nanometres to be measurable. This is a big challenge with blank wafers, patterned wafers, and masks. Current techniques are not sufficient and SPM is a solution.

Meer informatie over Essential technology tonen verbergen

SPM contains:

  • 50 parallel, miniaturised SPM scan heads
  • A revolutionary mechatronics positioning system for positioning and fixing mini SPMs
  • An automatic probe exchange unit
  • High-performance wafer stage with wafer clamp
  • Wafer handler for aligning, loading, and unloading wafers
  • Calibration facilities and environmental quality conditioning


  • Defect inspection of semiconductor bare wafers and blank masks (sub-10 nanometres to 2 micrometres)
  • Defect inspection of semiconductor patterned wafers (sub-10 nanometres to 2 micrometres)
  • Defect review of semiconductor bare wafers and blank masks (1-nanometre lateral resolution)
  • Defect review of semiconductor patterned wafers (1-nanometre lateral resolution)
  • Process controls such as CMP, etch depth, roughness

Detecting small particles

In chip manufacture, it’s important that no particles end up on chips. Even the tiniest particle can make the product unusable. We therefore have a way of detecting 50-nanometre-sized particles using our special scanner, the Rapid Nano. This enables us to assess which working methods are as clean as possible and how they can be improved.

The Rapid Nano

The Rapid Nano is a relatively affordable tool that scans the complete reflective surface (e.g., EUV masks) in a shielded clean box. This is done at a speed of 100 cm2 per hour. The solution can then be integrated into the client’s process.

Rapid Nano Particle Scanner

The Rapid Nano is an affordable tool for particle inspection of EUV blank reticles and reticle substrates.

Fast and detailed

According to the latest standards, during the production process, semiconductor devices must not add more than one 50-nanometre particle per 10 cycles to a 15 x 15 cm mask. You can compare this with flying over the Netherlands in a fighter jet, looking for a tennis ball. And you want to have the results within a few hours. This calls for a fast and detailed method.

Know-how at TNO

We’ve been a leader in the field of particle detection for 10 years. We devise methods for reliably detecting and locating defects using our knowledge of optics, signal processing, vacuum technology, and ultra-clean handling.

High-throughput sub-10 nanometre SPM

The number of potential applications of high throughput SPM is numerous.

Get inspired

562 resultaten, getoond 1 t/m 5

Educating AI

27 September 2022

You can read about how AI is educated in Chapter 1. How can we make clear to AI which goals we want to pursue as humans? Andhow can we ensure intelligent systems will always function in service of society?

Innovation with AI

27 September 2022

What does that world look like in concrete terms? Using numerous examples, TNO has created a prognosis for the future in Chapter 2. Regarding construction, for example, in which AI will be used to check the quality, safety, and energy efficiency of buildings before they are actually built. Or healthcare, where robots will partly take over caregivers’ tasks and AI will be able to autonomously develop medicines.

Innovating with innovation AI

27 September 2022

How AI will change research itself is explained in Chapter 3. For example, what role will AI be permitted to play in knowledge sharing? And what will happen when we make machines work with insurmountably large data sets?

David Deutsch on the development and application of AI

27 September 2022

Peter Werkhoven, chief scientific officer at TNO, joins physicist, Oxford professor, and pioneer in the field of quantum computing, David Deutsch, for a virtual discussion. Deutsch set out his vision in 1997 in the book, The Fabric of Reality. Together, they talk about the significance of quantum computing for the development and application of AI. Will AI ever be able to generate ‘explained knowledge’ or learn about ethics from humans?

Rob de Wijk on the rise of AI in geopolitical context

27 September 2022

Anne Fleur van Veenstra, director of science at TNO’s SA&P unit, interviews Rob de Wijk, emeritus professor of international relations in Leiden and founder of The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. Rob is also a much sought-after expert who appears on radio and television programmes. What does the rise of AI mean geopolitically and in armed conflicts?