Aberration metrology is critical to the manufacture of quality lithography lenses in order to meet strict optical requirements. Additionally, it is becoming increasingly important to be able to measure and monitor lens performance in an IC production environment on a regular basis. The lithographer needs to understand the influence of aberrations on imaging and any changes that may occur in the aberration performance of the lens between assembly and application, and over the course of using an exposure tool. This paper will present a new method for the detection of lens aberrations that may be employed during standard lithography operation. The approach allows for the detection of specific aberration types and trends, as well as levels of aberration, though visual inspection of high resolution images of resist patterns and fitting of the aberrated wavefront. The approach consists of a test target made up of a 180-degree phase pattern array in a "phase wheel" configuration. The circular phase regions in the phase wheel are arranged so that their response to lens aberration is interrelated and the regions respond uniquely to specific aberrations, depending on their location within the target. This test method offers an advantage because of the sensitivity to particular aberration types, the unique response of multiple zones of the test target to aberrations, and the ease with which aberrations can be distinguished. The method of lens aberration detection is based on the identification of the deviations that occur between the images printed with the phase wheel target and images that would be produced in the absence of aberration. This is carried out through the use of lithography simulation, where simulated images can be produced without aberration and with various levels of lens aberration. Comparisons of printed resist images to simulated resist images are made while the values of the coefficients for the primary Zernike aberrations are varied.© (2004) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.