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The Changing Mask Landscape


Semiconductor photomasks have undergone some major technology changes in the past few years after relatively minor changes for many years. New technologies such as multi-beam mask writers and extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography are major breakthroughs as they ramp into high-volume manufacturing. A new trend related to these technologies is the use of curvilinear features on photomasks. Aki... » read more

Curvilinear Photomasks Can Be Made Today


Multi-beam mask writers (MBMWs) and GPU-accelerated curvilinear ILT are enabling curvilinear photomasks to be made today. Despite the benefits of improved process windows, curvilinear photomask adoption is slow. Industry luminaries surveyed by the eBeam Initiative in 2021 ranked photomask inspection and infrastructure as the top barriers to adoption, as shown in figure 1. Yet only 4% say the b... » read more

Luminaries See Growth Opportunities For Photomask Writers


Multi-beam mask writers (MBMWs) are the new kid on the block of the photomask writers, so growth predictions aren’t surprising. In fact, 90% of the industry luminaries surveyed by the eBeam Initiative think that new MBMW purchases will increase over the next three years, as shown in figure 1. Looking at that chart, industry luminaries predict sales of new photomask writers to increase across ... » read more

How Do Multi-Beam Mask Writers Enable Curvilinear Shapes On Photomasks?


Multi-beam mask writing was identified as one of the ways to eliminate hurdles to manufacturing curvilinear mask shapes in the last installment of this blog. Our blog series continues with an educational video explanation of why and how multi-beam writers reduce write time for curvilinear mask shapes that took place during an eBeam Initiative panel discussion with industry experts during the 20... » read more

EUV Challenges And Unknowns At 3nm and Below


The chip industry is preparing for the next phase of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography at 3nm and beyond, but the challenges and unknowns continue to pile up. In R&D, vendors are working on an assortment of new EUV technologies, such as scanners, resists, and masks. These will be necessary to reach future process nodes, but they are more complex and expensive than the current EUV pro... » read more

eBeam Initiative Surveys Report Upbeat Photomask Market Outlook


Every year, the eBeam Initiative conducts surveys that provide valuable insight into the key trends that are shaping the semiconductor industry. This year, industry luminaries representing 42 companies from across the semiconductor ecosystem participated in the 2020 eBeam Initiative Luminaries survey. 89% of respondents to the survey predict that photomask (mask) revenues in 2020 will stay the ... » read more

Inspecting, Patterning EUV Masks


Semiconductor Engineering sat down to discuss lithography and photomask trends with Bryan Kasprowicz, director of technology and strategy and a distinguished member of the technical staff at Photronics; Thomas Scheruebl, director of strategic business development and product strategy at Zeiss; Noriaki Nakayamada, senior technologist at NuFlare; and Aki Fujimura, chief executive of D2S. What fol... » read more

Mixed Picture Seen For EUV Masks


The confidence level of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography continues to grow as the technology moves into production, but the EUV mask infrastructure remains a mixed picture, according to new surveys released by the eBeam Initiative. The EUV mask infrastructure involves several technologies that are in various stages of development. On one front, the outlook for several mask tool technol... » read more

Wanted: Mask Equipment for Mature Nodes


Rising demand for chips at mature nodes is impacting the photomask supply chain, causing huge demand for trailing-edge masks and a shortfall of older mask equipment. The big issue is the equipment shortfall, which could impact customers on several fronts. Tool shortages could lead to longer mask turnaround times and delivery schedules for chips being developed at 90nm and above, which are bu... » read more

EUV Pellicle, Uptime And Resist Issues Continue


Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography is moving closer to realization, but several problems involving scanner uptime, photoresists and pellicles need to be resolved before this long-overdue technology is put into full production. Intel, Samsung and TSMC are hoping to insert EUV into production at 7nm and/or 5nm. While the remaining issues don’t necessarily pre-empt using EUV, they do affec... » read more

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