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Japan's DNP enters photomask devt program with Brion

Posted: 10 Aug 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Dainippon Printing? Lithography? simulation? Brion Technologies? photomask?

Japanese conglomerate Dainippon Printing Co. Ltd (DNP) has entered into joint development program with U.S. lithography simulation vendor Brion Technologies Inc. aimed at improving the productivity and quality of leading-edge photomask production.

The program involves the application of Brion's verification tools, typically used for design verification in semiconductor manufacturing, to the photomask production process, the companies said. The goal of the partnership is to develop a system that can simulate the actual printed image on a wafer based on imported photomask data, which could be used to fabricate photomasks free of defects and circuit faults, according to the companies.

"The continuing rapid pace of IC geometry reduction makes the requirements for functional and accurate photomasks increasingly demanding," said Naoya Hayashi, director of the research and develop lab for DNP's electronic device division. "In order to comply with such a trend, photomask making from this point forward should be based on full knowledge of photolithography process characteristics."

The project is focused on optical proximity correction (OPC), which has become so complex at the 65nm and 45nm nodes that it is difficult to print patterns successfully on a wafer and still meet the chip designer's original intent. Performance of simulation and verification of the photolithography process prior to volume manufacturing is "vital" to predicting how the corrective OPC patterns on the photomask will be transferred to wafers, the companies said.

DNP purchased and installed Brion's Tachyon hardware-accelerated data and simulation engine at its facility in Japan and is using it to simulate and verify the viability of photomask pattern data provided by IC makers, according to the companies. After identifying any potential problems in the designs that would result in printed defects on a wafer, DNP plans to share that data with the unnamed IC makers, the companies said.

DNP's R&D unit, Brion and its Japanese subsidiary, Brion Technologies K.K., are all working collaboratively to apply Brion's technology to photomask production, the companies said.

In June, Brion signed a joint development agreement with the partners in the Crolles2 Alliance to develop OPC for the 45nm node. That agreement followed the successful completion of a 65nm OPC joint development with Crolles2, according to Brion executives.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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