Despite the complexity of AAPSM patterning using the complementary PSM approach with respect to OPC correction, mask making, fab logistics etc, the technique still remains a valuable solution for special products where a low CD dispersion printing process is required. For current and next generation process technologies (90-65nm ground rules), the most common alternating mask solution of single trench etch with or without undercut becomes more difficult to manufacture. Especially challenging is the aspect ratio control of quartz etched trenches as a function of density in order to assure the correct phase angle and sidewall for dense and isolated structures over all phase shifted geometries. In order to solve this problem, a modified mask architecture is proposed, called the Transparent Etch Stop Layer (TESL) phase shift mask. In TESL, a transparent (etch stop) layer is deposited on the quartz substrate, followed by the deposition of a quartz layer having a thickness corresponding to the required phase angle for the used wavelength. On top a Chromium layer will be deposited. The patterning of this mask will be quite similar to the single trench variant. The difference is, that now an overetch can be applied for the phase definition resulting from the high etch selectivity of quartz to the etch stop material. The result of this approach should be that we can better control the phase depth and sidewall angle for dense and isolated structures. In this paper we will discuss the results of the printing tests performed using TESL masks especially with respect to litho process window, and we will compare these with the single trench undercut approach. Simulation results are presented with respect to shifter sidewall profile and TESL thickness in order to optimize image imbalance. Throughout the study we will correlate simulations and measurements to the after-MBOPC CD values for the shifter structures. These results will allow us to determine if the TESL AAPSM approach can be a more effective alternative to the single trench undercut approach.© (2005) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.