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Photomask Talk was created as a communication document defining the meanings of words that have achieved new meanings relating directly to the making of Photomasks. As well as Vocabulary we include some Conversions, Acronyms, Idioms, Definitions & Idiosyncrasies.
Anti - Reflective Coating: A vacuum deposited optical coating designed to minimize or eliminate reflections of specific wave lengths of light. One of the most common AR Coatings used is MgFl Magnesium Fluoride. This is usually deposited on the photomask on one or both sides after the is made.
AR Chrome: A Chrome photomask plate with an Anti -Reflective coating deposited on the reflective chrome metal to minimize reflect it in the Ultra-Violet range of the spectrum. It minimizes standing wave effects and reflections between two substrates during contact printing.
Array: The area on the photomask that has repeating patterns. One or more arrays may be required on a mask. e.g. in the case of a semiconductor photomask the circuit may be the major array, a test device may be a minor array and alignment targets may be another array of patterns. The array usually is as large as possible to cover the substrate that the mask will be printed to maximize yield.
Artwork: A mask design medium that displays the finished mask layers. In the past the mask patterns were cut into rublith film and photographically reduced to make masks. Color overlays also many times are created to be mechanically aligned to view the "fit" of all the different levels of a mask set . These color overlays can be produced on diazo film or be plotted in color from the CAD data.
AutoCAD: A computer-aided design software tool use to create the mask patterns of a mask set. Because this software was never intended at a mask design program, there are some special requirements for the use of Auto -CAD such as closing polygons. HTA can provide more information on this.
Background: This is the background of the images in a mask design. Field is also referred to as the back ground. e.g. a dark field mask will have an opaque background with clear images.
CAD: Computer-aided design (CAD) is the use of computer systems or workstations to aid in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design.
Calma GDSII: This is a photomask design system that has used in the industry for many years. Many new design software programs model after this system and still have the capability of output - ting Calma Stream or GDSII data.
CD's: CD's is short for Critical Dimensions. Most images of circuit patterns have critical dimensions. One dimension (usually the smallest and most vulnerable to the process) is specified to be the most critical. The size is specified with tolerance or variance when the mask is ordered and this image is the single pattern to be measured and documented normally.
Chrome: The most popular metallization used for photoplates. Chrome metal is usually sputtered or evaporated onto a glass substrate which is the plate the mask will be made with. Chrome metal was chosen in the early 1960's as a medium that was easy to deposit with good adherence to glass, and durability when used by the customer in the process.
Contact Print: A replica of a Master Photomask Tooling. This copy is us usually made on a Contact Printer copy machine. When masks are used in contact on wafers they become damaged. Many mask users order a set of mask tooling and then have copies made over time to cut the cost of there masks.
Data Base: The original data that a mask is designed and generated from.
Defects: Mask pattern irregularities that cause the customers process to produce bad parts. e.g. opaque spots in clear areas, torn geometries, clear holes in opaque patterns ,etc.
E -Beam Lithography: A mask pattern generation tool that uses electron beam energy rather than conventional ultra violet light to expose resist.
Silver Emulsion: A relatively soft silver halide photographic medium on glass that is used to make photomasks.
Resist Emulsion: A relatively soft photosensitive polymer coating such as resist which is used to produce photoplates for mask making. This material is also used to pattern wafers, and other substrate material in the photolithographic manufacturing process.
Field: The background of a pattern on a photomask. Usually not the digitized areas. Dark field masks have an opaque background with clear images. Clear field masks have a clear background with opaque images.
Film: The plastic sub or base material used to support photographic emulsions. The most popular film thickness in the industry is 0.007 mils. Films are still widely used to image PC boards and are typically written on laser photoplotters.
Film: A thin deposited coating of material upon another type of material for a specific purpose.
Fracturing: The breaking up of an original data base into a format that a mask making Camera requires to produce images on a mask.
Gerber: A photo plotting tool data type that is used primarily to pattern a photoplotted film mask. Gerber data can many times be translated into other formats to be used on other types of mask making systems.
Glass: The substrate medium most widely used in high-resolution photomasks. The most popular types of glass used are as follows: 1. Soda Lime (high thermal expansion) lowest cost 2. White Crown (high thermal expansion) low cost 3. Borosilicate ( low thermal expansion) higher cost 4. Quartz, Fused Silica (lowest thermal expansion) high cost
Hard Surface: This term relates to the durability of a mask medium while in use. Chrome metal, Iron Oxide, and Silicon Oxide mask mediums are considered Hard Surface Mask Making materials.
Image: The working geometry or pattern of a mask. (this is usually the digitized data) Images may be dark or clear.
Inch: The English base number used to design masks. Common subterms widely used are as follows: 1. mil (.001, one thousandth of an inch) 2. micro-inch ( millionth of an inch)
Iron Oxide: An orange, see - through material used as a photomask medium on any type of glass. This material is actinically opaque with an optical density of about 2.0 -2.5 O.D. to ultra violet light which is typically used to expose photoresist. This material is popular when it is required to see through the opaque areas of a mask for better alignment.
Latent Image: an exposed image that has not been developed and is not visible. Some photographic mediums such as a silver halide emulsion can have a latent image decay with time.
Mask: A material or medium that works to withhold another material.
Meter: A unit of measure that is widely used in mask design. Subterms of this measurement unit representing smaller increments are as follows: 1. cm centimeter 1/100th of a meter 2. mm milli-meter 1/1000th of a meter 3. micron - 1/1,000,000 of a meter
Mil: A unit of measurement that is verbalized and written widely in mask design. It is equivalent to 0.001 inch. (one thousandth of an inch)
Millimeter: A metric unit of measure that is widely used in mask design. It is 0.001 meter or (one thousandth of a meter)
Negative: A process or mask type that results with its use to change to field of the image to the opposite of the original. e.g. a negative process will turn clear images into opaque (dark) images.
Nominal: This term relates primarily to Critical Dimensions. The Nominal size of an image is the ideal size and there usually is a tolerance + - range specified as an acceptable variance.
Optical Density: This is a measurement of opacity of a mask medium. A certain optical density may be required to hold back light with various light sources. Common optical densities used in the photomask industry are 2.5 - 4.0. A 4.0 O.D., is considered opaque to conventional light souces. When a user needs greater O.D., it is possible to achieve this with thicker metals as a mask medium. It is difficult to measure actual O.D. greater than 4.0. The tool used to measure O.D. is a densitometer. Most Chrome photo blank suppliers have an O.D. of 3.0 as a standard.
Pattern Generation: A photolithographic camera system that is designed producing random irregular shaped patterns on a photomask.
Parity: In mask making this relates to Mask Orientation. (frontward or backward) Mirror image mask patterns are considered Right Reading of the Titles through the back of the glass mask. Right reading also relates to Working Plate or Master Parity. This is also stated as right reading chrome down. Right reading while looking at the mask images from the front or image side is called Sub Parity or Right Reading Chrome up
Photoplot: A mask patterned by a photoplotter, usually on film.
Photomask: a substrate with a design of opaque patterns which is to be used to with hold light during its use. It will mask out selected area of light during the patterning of other substrates. Photomasks can be made on glass or film substrates. The opaque patterns can be made of silver, chrome, chrome oxide iron oxide, copper, aluminum, silicon oxide and other materials.
Photoresist: A photosensitive polymer emulsion coated onto a substrate for the purpose of patterning that substrate. Photoresists can be positive or negative working. The most popular in mask making is positive.
Plate size: Plate sizes and thicknesses vary according to customer needs. Usually, the photomask plate size is larger than the substrate to be exposed. Standard Photomask plate sizes are as follows in Inches: 1. 2.5x2.5x.060 6. 6.0x6.0x.090/120 2. 3.0x3.0x.060 7. 7.0x7.0x.090/120 3. 4.0x4.0x.060/.090 8. 9.0x9.0x.090/120/230/250 5. 5.0x5.0x.060/.090
Polarity: Polarity relates to the field or background density. e.g. if you wish to change the polarity of a mask you would change it from clear field to dark field or vice versa.
Positive: Usually means "the same" or yielding the same density in replication as the original.
Positive Process: Produces the same density as the original. In photolithography the exposed areas become clear.
Reticles: A mask used to produce a Step & Repeat mask. In a stepper, an array of the Reticle patterns will be produced on the final mask.
Reversal Process: A photographic process whereby the original exposed and the developed pattern is removed from the mask and the remaining photo medium is used to produce the mask patterns. The most popular reversal process is with the silver halide materials whereby a clear field mask when replicated becomes a clear field mask at final.
Ruby: Abbreviation for Rubylith. This is a plastic film with a dark red emulsion which can be cut and peeled precisely on a coordinatograph and photographically reduced to become a mask.
An orange, see -through mask material used to make high-quality photomasks. This material is not commercially available at this time.
Step & Repeat: a method of creating an array of patterns on a mask. Step & Repeat can be used in CAD to make 1X mask data or on a Step & Repeat Camera system.
Substrate: The base material onto which patterns are produced. Typical substrates in mask making are glasses or films. In the manufacture of micro-electronics they could be silicon wafers, alumina, quartz, sapphire, etc.
Target CD: Usually the specific image and Critical Dimension specified by the customer for the mask maker to measure.
Test Patterns: A secondary array of circuit patterns on a wafer or mask to test the semiconductor manufacturing process.
Tolerance: A quality tolerance for the measurement of a Targe CD or critical pattern.
X Axis, Y Axis, Z Axis, Theta Axis: In mask making, the X axis and Y axis can be different on different staging systems. Typically the X is from right to left., the Y is front to back, Z Axis is up & down, and Theta is rotation.
SEMICONDUCTORS MADE WITH PHOTOMASKS Semiconductors: The manufacture of semiconductor micro electronic solid state devices requires photomasks. These multilayer devices on a chip are created on a substrate, usually a silicon wafer. The photo process to image or pattern the photoresist that is used is very similar to that of making the mask itself. The latest production technology to pattern the wafers is with Step & Repeat projection camera systems.
These optical reduction systems are usually a 4x, 5x, 10 x reduction of a photomask reticle that gets passed through a high resolution lens that reduces the patterns onto the wafer. This reduction process allows for very fine line patterns to be resolved in the circuit. The finer the lines or the shorter the distance electricity has to travel allows the circuit to operate faster. The smaller the features of the circuit patterns typically the higher speed the circuit is. Pioneering Companies in the manufacture of semiconductor circuits were Fairchild Semiconductor, IBM ,Motorola and Texas Instruments.
OPTICAL DISPLAYS MADE WITH PHOTOMASKS Liquid Crystal Displays are manufactured on glass substrates and are electronic devices that are used in many types of equipment. These displays are patterns of cells that hold a chemical called a liquid crystal which contains molecules that when charged with electricity are either aligned or misaligned to create clear or opaque areas. The cells are created on the glass with a photomask and a photolithography process. Liquid crystal Displays can produce images such as numbers or photos with a resolution dependent on the size of the cells holding the liquid crystal.
LIGHT EMITTING DIODES MADE WITH PHOTOMASKS LED's are light producing electronic devices used is small displays. These devices are manufactured using a photolithographic process similiar to other microelectronic devices. Because of their high power consumption they are designed into components with greater power availability.
MEMS Devices Mask Making Techniques MEMS - Micro Electro Mechanical Systems are micro manufactured three dimensional components using semiconductor photolithography production techniques. Mask Making parameters are adjusted to accomodate the deep etching and dimensional changes that occur in processing. Chrome Photomasks used in this process can be greatly altered to meet the requirements of the unique devices.
HYBRID CIRCUITS Hybrid circuits generally require random pattern generation of trace elements across the pattern area. They are usually relatively large circuits and are made only a few per substrate in manufacturing. HTA can pattern generate up to 14 inches .
OPTICAL COMPONENTS Photolithography is used to pattern optical components with various types of pattern media and on a variety of substrate types such as: Quartz Borosilicate, Silicon, and other materials. The Chrome or pattern material density or color can be changed per the customers needs. Laser density chrome is very popular for aperatures for example and standard chrome of 1,000 Angstroms is common for apodizing filters where imagery is sub micron in size.
ENCODERS, Rotary and Linear Rotary encoders are manufactured up to 5,000 count using optical generation of patterns. Encoders with counts over this are usually manufctured using laser write tools or ebeam depending on the count that the design has. Rotary encoders can be cut and driller after imaging is completed.
Linear encoders can be made at HTA up to 15" long with counts that are extremely high utilizing sub micron patterns. Again these can be cut to any size after the patterning process is completed.
LEAD FRAMES Chrome Photomasks can be manufactured at HTA up to 15" for lead frame and other packaging needs. Lead Frame patterns are usually large geometry designs. These photomask can be made any shape to occomodate automatic printing equipment.
MOEMS Micro Optical Electro Mechanical Systems. Mask making techniques for MEMS and MOEMS are similar. MOEMS is a new technology with many new unforseen requirements.
Photomasks for Precision PC Boards Many aspects of microelectronics is continuously shrinking in size. The PC board must also shrink with finer geometries and configurations to occomodate new tiny hand held products. These boards will require glass photomasks with greater precision than film can provide today. HTA Photomask can make masks up to 15 inches for this purpose with greater precision.
PRECISION MICROMETERS HTA manufactures stage micrometers and can have them calibrated to NIST Standards. These unique tools fit into all industries where precision measurements are required. HTA has been making the Stage Micrometer used in Mask Making for many years.
MEDICAL DEVICES Today many Medical devices from DNA analysis to cell isolation devices are made using microphotolithography techniques and deep glass etching. The mask making challenges here are the same as for micro circuits. HTA manufactures many unique mask sets for various medical technology applications.
MICROSTRIP DETECTORS Photomask Techniques used in are similar to mask making with the exception of the double sided variety. Front and backside alignlment may be necessary with certain detectors. Microstrip detectors have been imaged at HTA up to 15".
MICRO MACHINING Micro machining is still an uncommon science. There are some companies machining into glass and silicon. Due to the structural quality of these materials the process is unique. Micr o machining usually requires deep etching of materials. Side etching is difficult to control as well as directional etch. Thick resists are usually required to withstand the deep etch.
Photomasks The Photomask is a high resolution precision flat glass substrate with micro photographic images of electronic circuits, micro -electronic circuitry, electronic packaging designs, semiconductor designs, and is used to image electronic substrates such as silicon wafers, ceramic substrates, and other micro chip materials.
Other industries that use the Photomask is the Precision Optics industry. The photomask is used to pattern fresnel lenses, optical apertures, linear and rotary scales, measurement standards, apodizing filters, special effects photographic filters and many other components.
The Photomask can be manufactured on flat quartz substrates such as fused silica polished to a flatness of sub micron flatness over a large area. Other substrates such as soda lime glass, filter glass, pyrex and borosilicate is also used to make photomasks.
Methods to image or pattern the photomask are to expose it with optical equipment and optical materials such as photoresist that is sensitive in the optical wavelengths of light. Ultraviolet light is the most popular wavelengths of light that are use to image the photomask. Electron Beam imaging and Laser writing equipment is also use to pattern the photomask. All of these techniques are available at HTA Photomask.
Photomasks are high resolution precision flat glass substrates with micro photographic images of electronic circuits, micro -electronic circuitry, electronic packaging designs, semiconductor designs, and is used to image electronic substrates such as silicon wafers, ceramic substrates, and other micro chip materials.
Another industry that uses Photomasks is the Precision Optics industry. Photomasks re used to pattern fresnel lenses, optical apertures, linear and rotary scales, measurement standards, apodizing filters, special effects photographic filters and many other components.
Photomasks can be manufactured on flat quartz substrates such as fused silica polished to a flatness of sub micron flatness over a large area. Other substrates such as soda lime glass, filter glass, pyrex and borosilicate is also used to make photomasks.
Methods to image or pattern Photomasks are to expose it with optical equipment and optical materials such as photoresist that is sensitive in the optical wavelengths of light. Ultraviolet light is the most popular wavelengths of light that are use to image the photomask. Electron Beam imaging and Laser writing equipment is also used to pattern photomasks. All of these techniques are available at HTA Photomask.