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Celebrating 40 Years of BBP: A Milestone in Semiconductor Manufacturing

Jun 6, 2024 3 min read

BBP – A Vital Role in Semiconductor Quality Assurance

Forty years ago, KLA introduced the KLA 2020, the first automated patterned wafer inspection system for chip manufacturing. This groundbreaking brightfield inspection system evolved to become the BBP (broadband plasma) inspection platform, which has been instrumental in helping chipmakers solve critical challenges and achieve manufacturing success.

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Before BBP, the industry relied on manual, optical microscope inspections by human operators, which were inconsistent and inefficient. The KLA 2020 automated this process, vastly improving reliability and reducing human error. Through a combination of high sensitivity to defects and high speed, BBP moved inspection inline for more effective process control during high-volume manufacturing. As a versatile and sensitive production wafer inspection system, BBP inspectors serve a critical role in semiconductor quality control.

“The relentless pursuit of perfection in semiconductor manufacturing and KLA’s 40-year journey with BBP have unequivocally shown that thoroughness is not just a virtue, but a necessity, and BBP’s story underscores the maxim, ‘Those who inspect the most, win.’”

Rick Wallace, president and CEO, KLA

BBP: The Heart of KLA Innovation

BBP inspection systems are an engineering marvel that has set KLA apart in the industry. Beginning with the first system and continuing today, KLA’s engineers and scientists have focused on developing optical and algorithm innovations that position BBP inspectors to meet the defect detection needs of each new semiconductor technology node and industry inflection.

Ben Tsai, chief technology officer at KLA, recalls, “Early in my career at KLA, I worked on metrology, overlay measurement and defect inspection algorithms, which helped us solve the inherent technology challenges in wafer inspection. One of my proudest moments back then was the first BBP tool acceptance by a customer in December 1984.”

KLA’s unique broadband plasma optical innovations deliver unparalleled inspection performance. The BBP systems leverage these advanced technologies to discover chipmakers’ most critical defects at a throughput that delivers full wafer coverage, making them indispensable for semiconductor manufacturing. Additionally, customer engagement and collaboration have propelled BBP performance and expansion in the industry, says Ahmad Khan, president, Semiconductor Process Control.

“Educating customers about BBP’s full wafer coverage capability and economic advantages has been a key factor in getting customers to expand inspection beyond research and development to high-volume manufacturing,” Ahmad says.

A Bright Future

Forty years is a remarkable milestone, and KLA remains confident in BBP’s continuous innovation and critical role in addressing the demands of new technology nodes. With KLA’s constant adaptation and advancements in illumination, sensor, algorithms and other technologies, BBP inspectors will evolve to meet future technology demands.

BBP’s journey showcases a legacy of innovation and KLA’s deep customer relationships, with a vision poised to address future industry challenges, according to Rick Wallace.

“As we celebrate 40 years of BBP, I am very proud of our company’s ability to exceed the expectations of our customers and in becoming a vital partner for industry leaders,” he says.

BBP patterned wafer inspection systems are the flagship products in our comprehensive inspection portfolio. Learn more here.

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