An at-wavelength system for extreme ultraviolet lithography mask blank defect detection is provided. When a focused beam of wavelength 13 nm is incident on a defective region of a mask blank, three possible phenomena can occur. The defect will induce an intensity reduction in the specularly reflected beam, scatter incoming photons into an off-specular direction, and change the amplitude and phase of the electric field at the surface which can be monitored through the change in the photoemission current. The magnitude of these changes will depend on the incident beam size, and the nature, extent and size of the defect. Inspection of the mask blank is performed by scanning the mask blank with 13 nm light focused to a spot a few .mu.m in diameter, while measuring the reflected beam intensity (bright field detection), the scattered beam intensity (dark-field detection) and/or the change in the photoemission current.
The U.S. Government has certain rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. DE-AC03-76SF00098 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.