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High Throughput Web Inspection System using Time-stretch Real-time Imaging


Photonic time-stretch is a novel technology that enables capturing of fast, rare and non-repetitive events. Therefore, it operates in real-time with ability to record over long period of time while having fine temporal resolution. The powerful property of photonic time-stretch has already been employed in various fields of application such as analog-to-digital conversion, spectroscopy, laser scanner and microscopy. Further expanding the scope, we fully exploit the time-stretch technology to demonstrate a high throughput web inspection system. Web inspection, namely surface inspection is a nondestructive evaluation method which is crucial for semiconductor wafer and thin film production. We successfully report a dark-field web inspection system with line scan speed of 90.9 MHz which is up to 1000 times faster than conventional inspection instruments. The manufacturing of high quality semiconductor wafer and thin film may directly benefit from this technology as it can easily locate defects with area of less than 10 µm × 10 µm where it allows maximum web flow speed of 1.8 km/s.

The thesis provides an overview of our web inspection technique, followed by description of the photonic time-stretch technique which is the keystone in our system. A detailed explanation of each component is covered to provide quantitative understanding of the system. Finally, imaging results from a hard-disk sample and flexible films are presented along with performance analysis of the system. This project was the first application of time-stretch to industrial inspection, and was conducted under financial support and with close involvement by Hitachi, Ltd.

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