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Boosted Stacking Ensemble Machine Learning Method for Wafer Map Pattern Classification

Jeonghoon Choi1, Dongjun Suh1,*, Marc-Oliver Otto2

1 Department of Convergence and Fusion System Engineering, Kyungpook National University, Sangju, 37224, Korea
2 Department of Mathematics, Natural and Economic Sciences, Ulm University of Applied Sciences, Ulm, 89075, Germany

* Corresponding Author: Dongjun Suh. Email: email

Computers, Materials & Continua 2023, 74(2), 2945-2966. https://doi.org/10.32604/cmc.2023.033417


Recently, machine learning-based technologies have been developed to automate the classification of wafer map defect patterns during semiconductor manufacturing. The existing approaches used in the wafer map pattern classification include directly learning the image through a convolution neural network and applying the ensemble method after extracting image features. This study aims to classify wafer map defects more effectively and derive robust algorithms even for datasets with insufficient defect patterns. First, the number of defects during the actual process may be limited. Therefore, insufficient data are generated using convolutional auto-encoder (CAE), and the expanded data are verified using the evaluation technique of structural similarity index measure (SSIM). After extracting handcrafted features, a boosted stacking ensemble model that integrates the four base-level classifiers with the extreme gradient boosting classifier as a meta-level classifier is designed and built for training the model based on the expanded data for final prediction. Since the proposed algorithm shows better performance than those of existing ensemble classifiers even for insufficient defect patterns, the results of this study will contribute to improving the product quality and yield of the actual semiconductor manufacturing process.


1  Introduction

A wafer is a basic unit created to evaluate electrical properties during semiconductor manufacturing [1], where wafer map fabrication is used to visualize the location of defects on the wafer map. Defective IC chips usually show defect patterns on the wafer map. These defect patterns include useful information about the semiconductor manufacturing process. Thus, wafer map defect pattern classification is essential to investigate the root cause of such defects occurring in the semiconductor manufacturing process. For example, physical etching frequently produces edge-ring patterns, while chemical etching often produces circle and scratch patterns. Therefore, accurate identification and classification of these defect patterns increases the chances of fixing the root cause of the main problem [2].

In the actual semiconductor manufacturing process, the occurrence of defects is very rare. In general, there are very few cases with detectable defect patterns when collecting manufacturing process data, and most of the data are in a normal state. Since it is necessary to classify data with a small defect pattern by learning the imbalanced dataset, the classification accuracy is very poor and time consuming [3]. Furthermore, pattern classification for the collected wafer map data relies on visual inspection by skilled engineers. Engineers randomly select samples from entire wafers and use high-resolution microscopy to analyze defects, which is a time-consuming and inconsistent process [4]. In order to save time and money in this process, it is essential to study automated wafer map pattern classification algorithms [5]. A considerable amount of research is underway now on wafer map defect classification using feature extraction algorithms in the semiconductor manufacturing process. Wafer map defect patterns were successfully classified in initial studies by applying only machine learning without applying feature extraction techniques [6]. In addition, research investigating the techniques for extracting features by concentrating on the features of the wafer map has been performed [710]. Further, this feature extraction technique was applied to analyze spatial defect patterns using machine learning and automated clustering algorithms [1113]. In recent studies, defects have been analyzed by directly extracting features from deep learning-based images. There are also many studies that have successfully implemented wafer map defect classification by applying the feature extraction technique followed by an ensemble learning algorithm [1420].

In order to improve wafer map pattern classification accuracy, this study aims to suggest a Boosted Stacking Ensemble Machine Learning (BSEML) algorithm that applies data augmentation to insufficient defect patterns. With a given training dataset, data augmentation is first performed through CAE-based model learning. Then, features are extracted through handcrafted feature extraction techniques based on features such as density, Radon, and geometry. The extracted feature vectors are combined to construct a BSEML model that performs final prediction. The contributions of this study are listed as follows.

1.    The effectiveness of the proposed technique was verified using wafer datasets collected from semiconductor manufacturers.

2.    The computational efficiency was increased by extracting the key defect pattern information hidden from the original image using various feature extraction techniques.

3.    Data augmentation was performed using a CAE-based model to solve the problem of lack of defect patterns and imbalance, and the accuracy of the proposed model was improved using augmented data.

The rest of this study is structured as follows. Section 2 briefly describes the techniques used in related studies. Section 3 introduces the proposed algorithm. Section 4 describes the data structure and experimental methods. Sections 5 and 6 contain the results of the study and conclusions

2  Related Work

In the past few years, there have been many studies that have applied machine learning to wafer map pattern classification. These are largely divided into two types based on the method of extracting the features of the wafer map and classifying the defects. Tab. 1 summarizes literature reported in the related studies.


2.1 Wafer Map Pattern Classification

The first method is to extract hand-made features and build a ready-made classifier. The most commonly used features for feature extraction techniques in this approach include density, geometry, and Radon properties [7]. Such handcrafted feature extraction reduces dimensionality by transforming the wafer map into a vector form. Next, it takes a vector as input and makes predictions in the classification model. This step involves various existing learning algorithms such as support vector machine (SVM), logistic regression (LR), naive Bayes (NB), and K-nearest neighbors (K-NN). The SVM model can be constructed more simply than the existing neural network model, and it is characterized by less overfitting as it has no effect on multi-class data classification and error data [10]. In addition, Baly et al. preprocessed the wafer map through End-of-line (EOL) test before classification using the SVM classifier [6]. The LR model is a widely used classification model, which provides probabilities for classified classes. This is a big advantage over models that can only do final classification [21].

The NB model is based on Bayes’ theorem and learns very quickly compared to existing learning algorithms. In particular, it allows easy and quick prediction in multi-class classification that is probabilistically independent [22]. It has high accuracy as the K-NN model checks and compares all classification system values, and the error data is excluded from the comparison target, thus not affecting the resulting value [23]. Yu et al. maximized classification performance through image denoising with median filter using an algorithm based on a KNN classifier [24]. Studies based on these methods focus on designing model optimizations to enhance the performance of pattern classification. These methods, however, do not overcome the limitations of the models, and some important information from the raw wafer map image might be lost.

The second method is a CNN-based raw image classification method. As shown in Fig. 1, the method aims to detect defects by extracting features from the wafer map based on image data. CNNs are end-to-end models designed to process two or more dimensional arrays as input. The end-to-end model approach is useful as it does not require the development of feature extractors [25]. CNN can directly extract the convolution features and apply them to the wafer map since the wafer map is expressed as a two-dimensional array. Such advantages allow this method to be actively applied to the classification of wafer maps [2628]. In addition, CNN-based wafer map classification studies using various data processing techniques have been conducted until recently [2832].


Figure 1: The architecture of convolution neural network approach [25]

2.2 Ensemble Model Learning of Handcrafted Features

The ensemble system is constructed based on principles such as reliability estimation, data fusion, and unbalanced data processing. The performance of an ensemble system depends on the accuracy of individual classifiers and the number of base-level classifiers included [33]. However, it is very difficult to select an appropriate classifier for designing an ensemble system. The ML classifier used in wafer defect classification may be suitable for some defects, but may not be suitable for recognizing all defect classes [34]. The ensemble techniques are used to overcome the limitations of individual classifiers in ML. Learning by assigning specific weights to individual classifiers ensures robustness for all defect classes. The goal of the ensemble classification technique is to integrate the prediction results of various ML models within the given training data and generate the final prediction result with improved accuracy [35]. It also facilitates fast classification through minimal calculations, coupled with handcrafted features that improve defect identification on large-scale wafer data [36].

In recent years, increasing interest in ensemble techniques has led to the emergence of various ensemble-based algorithms such as Voting, Bagging, Boosting, AdaBoost, XGBoost, and Mixture of Experts (MoE) [37]. Accordingly, studies applying the ensemble classification technique to classify wafer map defect patterns have appeared. The voting method first combines different algorithm models.

There are three types of voting methods for deriving the result: the majority, hard, and soft voting methods. Through experimental verification, the soft voting ensemble method has been verified to have the best performance for deriving the final result [17]. The bagging ensemble method allows for redundancy in the data sample and extracts the sample, and then learns by using different sample combinations within the same algorithm, decision tree (DT) or random forest (RF). Subsequently, the average of the results is calculated to obtain the final result. A robust model for various defect patterns has been presented according to the mathematical model of DT, an internal algorithm [18].

3  Proposed Method

This section describes the technique proposed in this study in detail. Fig. 2 shows the process for the proposed technique. The process is as follows. There are cases in which raw wafer image data have a class imbalance or lack defect patterns. Data augmentation using the CAE model is implemented to expand the data by matching the ratio for the overall insufficient pattern. To extract the features of augmented data as much as possible through the ML-based classifier, the amount of computation is reduced by reducing the dimension of the 2D array image to a 1D array while minimizing the loss of feature information due to the lowering of the dimension [38]. By extracting Radon, density, and geometric-based features, the feature vectors are maintained and summed into the BSEML model. Finally, the summed feature vectors are learned by the base-level classifier inside the BSEML model and the final prediction is performed by the meta-level classifier.


Figure 2: The architecture of the proposed method

3.1 Feature Extraction

The feature extraction technique makes a one-dimensional array by reducing the dimension of a two-dimensional array of the wafer map that exists as an image. With the dimension reduction, not only the amount of computation is reduced, but also important feature information is vectorized and converted into a one-dimensional vector [39]. Fig. 3 presents sample wafer maps from each defect pattern type.


Figure 3: Sample images

First, the density-based feature extraction technique is a method of calculating how densely the defects are in the corresponding section of the wafer map [9]. In order to extract the density-based features, each wafer map is divided into 20 parts of the (6, 6) region, and the failure density in each part is calculated. As shown in Fig. 4, the defect density distributions in the respective wafer regions are also different for different defect patterns.


Figure 4: Density-based images

Second, the Radon-based feature extraction technique is a method to generate an image of a two-dimensional representation of a wafer map by Radon transformation based on projection [40]. A projection is constructed by creating a few parallel rays from an object of interest in a 2D image, transferring the object’s integral contrast along with all of the rays to a single pixel in the projection. A Sinogram, which depicts the original image in a linear transform, is a collection of these projections from various angles [8]. The Radon transformation is expressed in Eq. (1).


Here, M is a wafer map of size m×n. Each element in M is set as 1 to denote a defective die, and 0 otherwise. ρ denotes the distance between the point of origin and the line, and θ indicates angle from the x-axis. g(ρ,θ) is the response of a projection, and δ is the impulse function. Fig. 5 shows the results of Radon transformation for eight common defect classes, identified by linear transformation of a collection of projections for different angles.


Figure 5: Radon-based images

Third, a geometry-based feature extraction technique is used to evaluate the geometric properties of each wafer map [41]. Geometry-based features have been derived by calculating local, statistical, and linear properties based on the analysis of various wafer map patterns and consultation with domain experts. The scale and rotation of these properties are invariant, and a region-labeling algorithm is used. The algorithm reveals the most prominent areas of the wafer defect pattern.

Fig. 6 shows the most prominent regions with the maximum area for each wafer map defect class. This function is also considered noise filtering to remove defect noise that is randomly present on the wafer map image. As a result, a total of 59 handcrafted features were extracted, containing 13 densities, 40 Radon shapes, and six geometric features, which were used to train the model.


Figure 6: Geometry-based images

3.2 The BSEML Model

Fig. 7 shows the architecture of the BSEML model. In the proposed model, a base-level classifier was constructed using four ML classifiers: random forest (RF), decision tree (DT), KNN, and SVM. The meta-level classifier was constructed using the extreme gradient boosting classifier. The identification accuracy of the star base-level classifier depended on the wafer map defect class. Individual classifiers failed to achieve high accuracy as each classifier had its own learning capabilities and parameter values. Therefore, an ensemble approach of collecting the best results from all classifiers, aggregating them, and putting them in the meta-level classifier was used to obtain the final classification results for all defect classes. A summary of each individual classifier is as follows.


Figure 7: The architecture of the BSEML model

A decision tree (DT), also called a classification and regression tree used in both classification and regression analysis, is a classification model that divides the independent variable space while sequentially applying various rules. In predicting target variables or solving classification problems, the model enables checking which explanatory variable is the most important influencing factor and determines the detailed criteria for the prediction and classification of each explanatory variable [42].

A random forest (RF) is a bagging ensemble algorithm that trains several DT models and synthesizes the results to make the prediction. The bagging ensemble algorithm is a method of training individual DT models with a sampled dataset by allowing duplicates from the original dataset. In addition, DT is based on the principle of uncertainty called entropy, and the concept of entropy is expressed by the following expression [43].


p(i|t) denotes the probability value at which each element can come out, and H(t) denotes the uncertainty of the random variable numerically. Entropy in ML means that the higher the value, the lower the probability of successful classification. Therefore, RF and DT models are trained by selecting a predicted value that lowers the entropy index. Values predicted through multiple models are averaged to produce a final predicted value. The RF algorithm improves the generalization performance of the predictive model by randomly selecting features for further diversity in the DT model [44].

KNN is an algorithm that is used to determine the classification of new data. The KNN for classification is expressed as follows [45].


For the input data x^, the KNN classifier predicts a label, y^(x~). Where, Nk(x~) is a set of x~ts close to x~, and T(y) is a function that outputs 1 if y is true, and 0 if false. By comparing the existing data with the newly input data, the input data are classified based on the existing data that are similar. Since this algorithm checks and compares all the values of the existing classification system, the accuracy is high, and error data are excluded from comparison by only using the k nearest data. Therefore, the error data do not significantly affect the result value [46].

SVM is an algorithm that performs classification using support vectors and hyperplanes. The data are classified by maximizing the margin between the separated hyperplane and the support vector while minimizing the error [47]. Training by maximizing the margin may lead to some errors, but the classification accuracy is high for newly input data. Training by minimizing errors may lead to incorrect classification due to a narrow margin. The expression to maximize the SVM margin is as follows [48].





M denotes the margin, α denotes the slope to hyperplane, x denotes the point on the hyperplane, and y denotes the ground truth class. By adding a tuning parameter C that allows the error μi in the case of misclassification for each observation, data xi was appropriately allowed to have a soft margin. Therefore, in this study, the accuracy of defect classification was improved by selecting a method for maximizing the margin [49].

The proposed BSEML model is an ensemble technique combining base-level classifiers to improve prediction performance [50]. Based on the stacking ensemble structure, the error rate of individual classifiers is minimized. A stacking ensemble consists of a base-level classifier and a meta-level classifier. All base-level classifiers are trained with different approaches to perform target tasks using different learning algorithms. The data diversity of the ensemble model was improved by selecting different base-level classifiers with different parameter boundaries. Since the classifier selected this way was trained with the same extracted features, various predictive models were created with the same input data according to the decision boundary, thereby preserving the uniqueness of each classifier [33]. The meta-level classifier was trained to integrate the robustness of different base-level classifiers by verifying base-level classifier would be more accurate for each class of defects when performing the target task.

The base-level classifier output is then provided to the meta-level classifier to make final predictions [51]. In this study, extreme gradient boosting (XGB) was selected as a meta-level classifier to construct a boosted stacking ensemble.

XGB is the most popular algorithm in tree-based ensemble learning, which is based on the principle of boosting. A strong prediction model is built by weighing the learning error of the weak learner and reflecting it sequentially on the next learning model. Although the model is based on a gradient boosting machine (GBM), it works by solving the problems of slow execution time and lack of regularization, which are the weaknesses of GBM [52].

In this experiment, the meta-level classifier increased the accuracy of final predictions by applying weights to predictions of weak leaner models among basic classifiers and performing parallel learning. Tab. 2 shows the algorithm for the BSEML model.


Once the BSEML model is trained, it can be utilized to classify wafer map patterns. Given wafer map x as a new input, the predictive label y is derived by the following process. The wafer map x is augmented by the CAE model and enters gMFE to generate a feature vector. The feature vectors are aggregated to obtain the final probability prediction H^BSE to form gMFE and used as inputs to the BSEML model. When training data D is input to the BSEML model, base-level classifiers are trained. Next, a new dataset Dh is created based on the data learned in h. Finally, when Dh is transferred to the meta-level classifier, the weights for weak learners with low accuracy are updated to perform final class prediction. This gives high weights to weak learners with low accuracy and low weights to strong leaners with high accuracy, resulting in appropriate weight updates [53].


Eq. (8) shows the equation for the final class prediction. In H^BSE, with the class corresponding to the largest element, the final prediction y^ for the wafer map x is obtained.

4  Experimental Analysis

4.1 Data Description

The WM-811K dataset, obtained in an actual industrial process, was used in this study; the dataset is publicly available in [54]. The dataset is a map of 811,457 wafers generated from over 40,000 detectors during circuit testing in the manufacturing process. Defect patterns were marked by domain experts in 172,950 wafer maps of theirs. For the experiment, only the wafer maps labeled in the dataset were used. A labeled wafer map belongs to one of the nine defect classes: Center, Donut, Edge-Ring, Edge-Local, Local, Random, Near-full, Scratch, and None. Each wafer map was checked in a two-dimensional array before being passed on to augmentation preprocessing.

As feature extraction was not possible for array elements with fewer than 100 defective elements, four abnormal wafer maps were removed. These four abnormal wafer maps were found to belong to the None class. Therefore, the number of datasets was reduced to 172,496. Tab. 3 shows the defect distribution in the labeled dataset. The None class defect occupies the most in the total. The shape of the wafer map varies from (26, 26) to (300, 300). The dataset obtained from the actual process has very few defect patterns and requires a lot of money and time. Therefore, 14,326 training datasets were extracted by randomly sampling from the labeled dataset. In order to apply the wafer map to a later process, all wafer maps were reshaped into (32, 32) where defect patterns were evenly distributed.


4.2 Convolutional Auto-Encoder for Data Augmentation

In the dataset acquired from the actual process, there is a difference in the amount of data for each defect class, and in severe cases, the data is biased toward only the majority class. Machine learning algorithms proceed with learning by assuming that each class has an equal ratio. As for a dataset with a class imbalance, machine learning does not perform precise learning and is biased toward the class which occupies a large proportion of the dataset [55].

The WM-811K used in this study has an imbalanced dataset. The None class accounts for more than 90% of the total defects, and there are insufficient defect patterns in the Donut and Near-full classes.

Therefore, in order to expand the number of defect images in the dataset and improve the generalization ability of the model, a data augmentation method based on CAE was used [56].

CAE is a variant of convolutional neural networks that is used as a tool for unsupervised learning of convolution filters [57]. CAE is usually applied in image reconstruction processes to minimize reconstruction errors by learning optimal filters. In AE, the images must be spread out as single vectors and the network must be designed regarding to the constraint on the number of inputs.

However, unlike normal AE that completely ignores the 2D image structure, CAE is a feature extractor that can learn even from two-dimensional images [58]. Fig. 8 shows the CAE parameters and architecture employed in this study. For each convolution 2D layer of the encoder and decoder of the CAE model, a kernel size of (3, 3) was used, and MaxPooling2D was applied. The kernel size of the pooling layer was (2, 2). ReLu was used for the activation functions of all layers, and a sigmoid for classification was used for the deconvolution layer at the end of the model. The entire process is explained as follows. The received input image data passes through the convolution layer while maintaining the spatial information in the encoder unit. The information passes through the layer, then through the central latent space layer, and finally through the decoder unit with noise added. The noise scale was set to 10% to minimize the effect on the defect pattern in this study [59].


Figure 8: The architecture of CAE model

4.3 Structural Similarity Index Measure Methods for Augmented Data Validation

SSIM was used to compare the difference between the original wafer image data and the augmented wafer image data. SSIM is a method designed to evaluate visual similarity rather than numerical error. SSIM specializes in deriving the structural information of the image and compares the degree of distortion of the structural information [60]. The SSIM equation is expressed as Eq. (9), and the following equations represent its internal equations [3].



In Eq. (10), λx denotes the average x of the image, λ denotes the average y of the image, and C1 denotes the normalization constant for brightness. The following equation represents the average luminance.


In Eq. (11), ox denotes the standard deviation of input image, oy denotes the standard deviation of the y image, and C2 denotes the contrast term constant. The following equation represents the contrast of the image.


In Eq. (12), oxy denotes the correlation coefficient between x and y. The correlation coefficient between x and y was calculated to compare the structures of the original image and the augmented image.

By comparing and analyzing raw image data and augmented image data with the SSIM scale, augmented image data with an SSIM value of 90% or more were used as feature extraction model input value [61]. Fig. 9 shows a comparison between the raw image and the augmented image.


Figure 9: The comparison of generated image to the original image

4.4 Experimental Settings

In this study, a dataset of four cases was constructed from the training dataset for performance evaluation. Since the defect class is in a very unbalanced state in the original data, three augmentations were performed to solve this problem. Tab. 4 shows the wafer map data organized by enhancement ratio. Case 1 consists of raw wafer data as they are. Case 2 consists of a 30% augmented data from raw wafer data. Cases 3 and 4 consist of 40%, and 50% augmented data from raw wafer data, respectively. In addition, while performing data augmentation, the ratio of each defect pattern in the original data was maintained as much as possible. However, the None class was excluded from augmentation as it contained too much data compared to other defect classes. In each experiment, 80% of the data was used as the training dataset for the performance model, and the remaining 20% was used as the test dataset.


This experiment was performed using Python 3.6 in the Ubuntu 12.04 environment, and handcrafted feature extraction was obtained through the scikit-image library [62]. The scikit-learn library, Ensemble-Pytorch library, and XGBoost library were used together for training and comparison models [6365].

4.5 Validation Methods

Macro-average F1, micro-average F1, and confusion matrix were used to evaluate classification performance. These are performance metrics commonly used for classifying wafer map patterns, mainly on imbalanced data [66]. F1macro and F1micro are described by the following expressions.







where, Pk and Rk denote precision and recall, respectively. F1macro calculates the unweighted average F1 score for each class. F1macro allows efficient calculation for a minority class in data with class imbalance by giving same weights to individual classes. Whereas, F1micro proceeds with learning by giving the same weight to individual classes, and a class with a large amount of data greatly affects the calculation in data with class imbalance. In this experiment, F1macro was smaller than F1micro in general, due to the distribution of class imbalance in the dataset.

The confusion matrix is a table that supports the visualization of the performance of a trained classification algorithm in a classification problem. Each row of the matrix denotes an instance of the predicted class, and each column presents an instance of the actual class. The confusion matrix used in this experiment was normalized for effective analysis [67].

4.6 Compared Models

The proposed model was compared with two basic classifiers and four ensemble-based models. Tab. 5 shows the F1 scores of the proposed and compared models for each defect. The two base-level classifiers, the SVM and KNN classifier, are provided by the scikit-learn library, which are the base-level classifiers used in the stacking layer of the BSEML model. The four ensemble-based models selected include voting, stacking, bagging, and boosting models. As for the internal models of the voting ensemble model, SVM, KNN, RF, and DT were selected in the same way as the BSEML model and trained using soft vote method. The internal model of the stacking classifier was also selected in the same way as the BSEML model, and DT was used for the meta-level classifier [68]. As the bagging model, BaggingClassifier, a classifier provided by scikit-learn, was used, and learning was conducted by setting base_estimator to RF-based classifier and n_estimator to 100. GBM was used as the boosting model, and n_estimator was set to 200 for learning considering that it is robust for overfitting [69].


5  Results and Discussion

Tab. 5 provides a comparison of F1macro and F1micro for each data size case between the compared models and the proposed model. As shown in Tab. 5, the proposed model outperformed other models in all cases. In particular, it showed a remarkable increase in F1macro, indicating better classification performance on data with class imbalance. In Case 1, with raw data, F1macro, showed the best performance with the largest margin. While the accuracy of the pre-model models increased with data augmentation, the proposed model had the best classification performance among them. Tab. 6 shows a comparison of the F1 scores of seven models by data case for various defect classes. The ensemble models showed different robustness in each defect class. In particular, the stacking model and the bagging model showed strength in random and scratch classes, respectively.


The proposed model presents good performance for all defect classes. Such results indicate that the proposed model increases the F1 score for each defect class by appropriately utilizing the combination of ensemble models for each different defect pattern. Fig. 10 shows the normalized confusion matrix of the basic classifier SVM, voting ensemble model and the proposed model. A clear improvement in the classification performance is observed from the base-level classifier to the ensemble classifier and then to the proposed model. The base-level classifier shows high accuracy only for the Donut and None classes. The ensemble classifier shows high accuracy for all defect classes except for a specific defect class. The proposed model combines the strengths of ensemble classifiers to achieve very high defect detection rates for all classes. In addition, the stacking ensemble model and the BSEML model were compared to investigate which defect patterns were weighted as learning progressed. Fig. 11 shows the average of the learning weight matrix for each defect in the Case 4 data set in the form of a bar graph. A larger weight of the classifier for each defect class indicates that the classifier has greater impact on the final prediction. The proposed model has a tendency to give high weights to defect patterns showing high classification difficulty. The proposed model was trained with a low weight for the Donut and Edge-Loc classes, for which it showed higher classification accuracy than the stacking ensemble model. This means that the classification performance of the proposed model can be improved by assigning appropriate weights to defect patterns for learning.


Figure 10: Confusion matrix of the baseline models and proposed model


Figure 11: The comparison of weights for each defect classes

6  Conclusion

In this study, an algorithm that combines the reinforcement of insufficient defect patterns with an excellent hybrid model was proposed. The proposed method performs data augmentation using CAE on an image-type wafer map and features were subsequently extracted by applying density-based, geometry-based, and Radon-based feature extraction methods. This feature extraction technique improved the efficiency of the wafer defect identification system by providing detailed information about the wafer map and reducing the amount of computation required for learning. Then, four machine learning classifiers were stacked, and an ensemble model was built by using the XGB Classifier as a meta-level classifier. The proposed method demonstrated superior classification performance compared to those of the base-level classifier and ensemble models and showed robustness against insufficient defects. The effectiveness of the proposed method was verified experimentally using real data sets.

The improved classification performance demonstrated in this study is expected to have a significant effect on the stable automation of wafer map classification, leading to an improvement in product quality and yield in the actual semiconductor manufacturing process. Based on the proposed model, it will be possible to develop a model that guarantees robust performance while maintaining higher performance in various manufacturing domains, and it will also be possible to develop a model optimized for any domain by applying actual datasets from various manufacturing fields.

Funding Statement: This work was funded by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIT) (No. NRF-2021R1A5A8033165) and the “Human Resources Program in Energy Technology” of the Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning (KETEP) and was granted financial resources from the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy, Republic of Korea (No. 20214000000200).

Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest to report regarding the present study.


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Cite This Article

J. Choi, D. Suh and M. Otto, "Boosted stacking ensemble machine learning method for wafer map pattern classification," Computers, Materials & Continua, vol. 74, no.2, pp. 2945–2966, 2023. https://doi.org/10.32604/cmc.2023.033417

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