Leading the way to next generation reticle technology.

As the semiconductor industry technology migrated from generation to generation, TCE provided photomask solutions that assisted customers in meeting the complex challenges of these new technologies. Now, as the industry moves toward even more advanced process technology, TCE is providing customers with the knowledge, resources, products, and solutions necessary for success at the sub 100-nanometer level.

Today, TCE is one of Asian-based photomask providers continual offering nanometer process node research, development and test production. TCE and parent company Toppan have made continual investments in advanced E-beam writers, and own and operate state-of-the-art EBM6000 and EBM7500T E-beam writers. These devices will help TCE's mass production of 28 nanometer node and facilitate development of advanced photomask solutions at 14 nanometer process node and below.

The photomask is an essential device to be used in the manufacturing process of integrated circuits such as LSI.

It is a transparent glass plate (composite quartz) on which extremely fine microcircuit patterns are etched on the light shielded film and plays a role as a master when circuits are printed on silicon wafers.

The patterns on the photomask are reduced and optically transferred onto wafers to form fine patterns.

Mask patterns are formed on a blank substrate based on circuit pattern data using electron beam lithography technology.

The photomask is fabricated through etching, resist strip, cleaning, measurement, and inspection processes.

TCE has been supporting the semiconductor industry through its manufacture of photomasks since 1997.

At the same time, in order to satisfy the demand for much finer patterns on evolving LSIs, we are continuously developing phase-shifting masks and more advanced photomask products using the next generation of exposure technology.


In the manufacturing process of semiconductors such as LSI, a pattern on the photomask is reduced and exposed on a silicon wafer a number of times while the stepper (i.e. reduced projection type exposure machine) shifts, transferring multiple element patterns on each wafer.
1.Photomask Blanks
Absorber layers (chrome etc.) are deposited over the ultra fine polished high purity synthetic quartz substrate, forming a light shielding layer with a thickness of tens of nanometers. Above quartz substrate is called a photomask blanks.
Photoresist (photosensitive resin) is uniformly coated over the surface of a photomask blanks, then a LSI circuit pattern is written by using electron beam or laser beam.
The portions of resist exposed to the electron beam are removed through development process (positive tone resist). Depending on the type of resist, there are cases in which non-exposed portions of resist are removed on the contrary (negative tone resist).
The portions from which resist was removed by the development process, the absorber layer is exposed then this layer is etched through a chemical reaction by dry etching.
5.Resist Removal
A photomask is completed upon removal of the resist and cleaned, and is finally shipped after passing several strict inspection processes.
Binary Masks

Structure of binary mask is simple; it is a photomask blank covered with patterned layer of opaque material. Its transmission characteristics are either transparent or non-transparent. Binary mask is used for building a pattern in which line width being larger than the exposure wave length.
However, it is learnt that the binary mask is superior to the halftone phase shift mask used for immersion lithography for 32nm half-pitch or beyond.
Toppan and its blanks vendor have co-developed new type of binary blanks with superior workability (OMOG: Opaque MoSi on Glass). They have managed to create blanks for binary masks with better CD performance and higher resolution.

Phase Shift Masks 

Phase-shifting mask (PSM) has achieved improved wafer printability with higher resolution and increased DOF (Depth of Focus), by controlling the phase shift and the transmission rate. This is a standard technology for lithography in which line width being smaller than the exposure wave length.

Most well known PSM is Halftone mask (Attenuated PSM) and Levenson mask (Alternating PSM).

Half-tone Phase Shift Mask

Half-tone mask includes chrome layer and semitransparent layer that shift the phase angle of an incoming light by 180 degree.

When light passing through materials, its speed is altered, which in turn, its phase angle is shifted. This material, a semitransparent layer is called "phase shifter".

Half-tone masks have achieved higher resolution, utilizing the interference of light created by a phase differences between with-phase shifter and without-phase shifter on the photomask blank.

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