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ASML, Photronics ally on CPL masks

Posted: 19 Dec 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:asml? photronics? software? cpl masks? masktools?

In a move intended to spur the use of chromeless phase shift mask technology, ASML MaskTools and Photronics, Inc. announced an agreement that combines ASML's software and CPL expertise with Photronics' commercial mask-making capability.

ASML calls the approach CPL. Photronics will produce CPL masks using licensed intellectual property from ASML's MaskTools division. ASML acquired the mask tools division of MicroUnity Corp. in June 1999.

The partners said they will work together to create a "seamless CPL manufacturing flow that is optimized for Photronics' mask making process."

ASML MaskTools markets several software tools designed to ease the creation of reticle enhancement techniques. Chris Progler, chief scientist at Photronics, said "mask data treatment tools are an important step" in bringing CPL technology to market and shortening the time needed to create a CPL mask layer.

Executives said one major customer is interested in using the technology. Though they did not identify that customer, other sources said United Microelectronics Corp. intends to use CPL masks for its foundry customers.

Dinesh Bettadapur, president of ASML MaskTools, said that for 65-nm design rules and beyond, chip companies will need to develop the design software that will support reticle enhancement techniques, including CPL masks. The approach may allow 193-nm scanners to be used for critical layers, such as gate definition and contacts in the interconnect stack.

"This is being driven by a customer which uses Photronics as a key mask supplier. The goal is to make this a broadly accepted form of (RET) nhancement technology," said Bettadepur.

Bernie Roman, director of advanced lithography research at Motorola Inc.'s advanced products research and development laboratory (APRDL) here, said Motorola has been testing a CPL mask for a PowerPC microprocessor. However, Roman said Motorola only recently received the mask, and testing has just begun. Motorola may be a year or so away from using CPL technology in production, he cautioned.

Chromeless phase shift masks provide a strong shift to light from the scanner, sharpening the image as it is printed on the wafer. Though alternating phase-shift masks provide similar benefits, such "hard" phase-shift masks require that the initial exposure be followed by a "trim" mask which removes unwanted patterns. The CPL approach does not require a trim mask, boosting throughput by an estimated 40 percent.

- David Lammers

EE Time

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