Development of advanced scripting and programming algorithms for automated scanning electron microscopy (SEM) inspections

Leuven - Master projects/internships
More than two weeks ago

Explore and improve microscopic inspections by Python based programming

The microscopic inspection of devices is an important part of the overall fabrication process to ensure a high product quality and to support the development of new technology processes. There are many different types of microscopy tools among which scanning electron microscopy (SEM) systems are one of the most widely used inspection tools because they allow the precise inspection of device structures over a wide range of dimensions ranging from micrometers down to nanometers.  In SEM, a focused electron beam is scanned across the region of interest whereby the beam-sample interaction generates different types of signals such as secondary and backscattered electrons which are used to reconstruct an image of the scanned area. In conventional SEM inspections, the SEM operator adjusts the beam settings, navigates manually to the region of interests and records a series of SEM images. An automated way of working is highly desirable for repetitive inspections (e.g. product quality control). Furthermore, software control of the electron beam scanning is also wanted to improve the quality of the recorded images and to increase the overall imaging efficiency.  Therefore, this project aims in the development of advanced scripting and software algorithms for more automated and higher-quality SEM inspections.

In this topic, the student will first learn the basics of working with a state-of-the-art SEM system for imaging micrometer-scale sensors and nanometer-scale semiconductor device structures. He/she will use a Python-based scripting environment to explore different ways of tool automation, beam steering and image recording. A device model/layout program is used to extract the information for locating the region of interest and specifying the size and number of images to be recorded. The student will also investigate ways on how recorded images can be merged with the device model. For this topic, the student will work inside an analysis lab environment to carry out the experimental microscopy work (50%) and will develop Phyton-based scripts and programs for SEM inspections (50%). The student will be part of imec’s materials and component and analysis group.

Type of Project: Internship, Thesis, combined internship/master thesis

Duration: 6 months

Master Program: Computer Science, Electrotechnics/Electrical Engineering, Physics, Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Engineering

Supervising scientist: For more information on the project or for sending in your application contact Thomas Hantschel (
KU Leuven suervisor: Wilfried Vandervorst

Imec allowance will be provided

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