Semiconductor Value Chain

Sematech, Suss Microtech Investigating EUV Mask Defects

08 October 2013

In its search for practical solutions for defect reduction in high-volume extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, the Sematech consortium has partnered with Suss MicroTec's photomask equipment division to investigate and develop EUV substrate and blank cleaning technologies.

The long-term goal of this collaboration is to increase the manufacturing yield for substrates and mask blanks with the lowest defect counts at nonprintable defect sizes, according to Sematech.

The collaborative work will involve both wet and dry cleaning methods, targeting major reduction in soft defects as well as surface pitting and functional layer degradation.

Frank P. Averdung, president and CEO of Suss MicroTec, said through a statement that EUVL has reached a critical juncture which requires low defect masks and in-fab mask re-clean to accelerate development and substantially reduce scanner down time. "Learning from this collaboration is expected to once again benefit also EUVL and 193i pattern mask cleaning yields," Averdung said.

Stefan Wurm, Sematech's director of lithography said the collaboration will focus on developing innovative ways to remove particles as small as 10 nm from EUV substrates and blanks.

Photomask and mask blank defects are one area where more development is needed before EUV can be put in volume production. EUV was originally expected to be in production several years ago, but the technology has been pushed out many times, mostly because of issues around scanner throughput and source power and stability. Intel Corp. and other leading-edge chip makers have said they would like to deploy EUV in late 2015.

Suss MicroTec supports more than 8,000 installed systems worldwide. It is headquartered in Garching near Munich, Germany.

Sematech is an international consortium of semiconductor device, equipment, and materials manufacturers based in Albany, N.Y. The organization's stated goal is to assist its members in bridging strategic R&D and manufacturing.

In its annual mask survey released this month at the 2013 SPIE Photomask Technology Conference in Monterey, Calif., Sematech identified defect mitigation and write time as the current top challenges for masks. Critical tool readiness and capability was named as the top concern for the development of next-generation masks.

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