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Home > Press > IMEC launches EUV mask cleaning program

IMEC today announced that it is extending its EUV (extreme ultra-violet) lithography research program with a parallel dedicated EUV mask cleaning research program.

IMEC launches EUV mask cleaning program

Leuven, Belgium | Posted on July 14th, 2009

The program will build on a new collaboration between IMEC and HamaTech APE GmbH & Co. KG. HamaTech's MaskTrack ProR photomask processing system has been selected as the cleaning tool of record and will be installed at IMEC's 300mm clean room where the companies will perform collaborative research to reach the stringent mask integrity requirements of EUV lithography. This collaboration enables IMEC to offer interested partners innovative mask cleaning technology to develop processes of record (PORs) to extend their EUV lithography research.

Unlike photomasks used in optical lithography today, EUV masks will most likely not have pellicles making the mask sensitive to particle and organic contamination. Consequently, cleaning EUV masks close to Point-of-Exposure in the wafer fab reduces the risk of yield loss due to added particles or organic contamination growth.

IMEC's mask cleaning program will develop processes of record (PORs) for EUV mask cleaning that are effective in removing the contamination of interest yet are gentle enough to be applied repeatedly without reducing mask lifetime. Additional investigation and optimization of EUV reticle back-side cleaning processes which do not influence the front-side will, as part of
the overall mask cleaning program, assist to keep the overlay performance of the EUV scanner in spec.

Kurt Ronse, program director advanced lithography at IMEC said, "Over the last year, we achieved major progress on resist for EUV but pristine, defect-free masks at point-of-exposure have become an increasing concern in advancing EUV towards pilot production in 2010. Therefore, we will extend
our program with mask cleaning research to offer our partners advanced research on one of the critical EUV mask related issues in EUV lithography. The installation of the MaskTrack Pro and our on-going collaborative research efforts with the HamaTech team ensures that a complete mask
integrity infrastructure is available for interested partners at IMEC's 300mm research facility before end 2009."

MaskTrack Pro combines the performance of the MaskTrack tool with innovative cleaning technology and a sophisticated system design for a holistic approach of mask integrity, focused on 193i 22nm half pitch double patterning, EUV and Nano-Imprint lithography technologies. The system features Focused Spot CleaningTM for precise removal of particles in defined areas of the mask, saving significant time after repair and eliminating the toughest overlay issues caused by backside contamination. A unique combination of physical and chemical cleaning technologies have demonstrated a highly-effective removal of organic and inorganic contamination without damage to the vulnerable absorber and capping layer (SPIE, March 2009). MaskTrack Pro's holistic approach to mask integrity ensures that the reticle is defect-free at exposure, offering customers a dramatic increase in exposure tool availability and uptime.

"We are very pleased to collaborate with IMEC on critical mask cleaning technology for next generation lithography processes," said Wilma Koolen-Hermkens, CEO of HamaTech APE. "The MaskTrack Pro, is the first system in the industry that can address EUVL zero tolerance levels for
particles and defects on the mask prior to exposure. With a world class design, the MaskTrack Pro allows clustering of metrology systems and pod-in-pod stocking for a holistic mask management approach throughout the life of the mask. IMEC is our partner of choice to jointly develop the necessary PORs for our valued customers."


About IMEC
IMEC is a world-leading independent research center in nanoelectronics and nanotechnology. IMEC vzw is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, has a sister company in the Netherlands, IMEC-NL, offices in the US, China and Taiwan, and representatives in Japan. Its staff of more than 1650 people includes about 550 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2008, its revenue (P&L) was EUR 270 million.

IMEC's More Moore research aims at semiconductor scaling towards sub-32nm nodes. With its More than Moore research, IMEC looks into technologies for nomadic embedded systems, wireless autonomous transducer solutions, biomedical electronics, photovoltaics, organic electronics and GaN power electronics.

IMEC's research bridges the gap between fundamental research at universities and technology development in industry. Its unique balance of processing and system know-how, intellectual property portfolio, state-of-the-art infrastructure and its strong network worldwide position IMEC as a key partner for shaping technologies for future systems.

About HamaTech APE

HamaTech is an established leader of semiconductor equipment. At HamaTech we combine the latest technology with extensive know-how to provide systems that are future-compliant. HamaTech APE GmbH & Co. KG is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SINGULS TECHNOLOGIES AG, Kahl/Main.


SINGULUS TECHNOLOGIES, the world leader in High Volume Manufacturing equipment for Optical Discs CD/DVD/Blu-ray, acquired STANGL to focus on the photovoltaic market and successfully entered the solar equipment market. The new business area "Solar" will be expanded in the next years.

While STANGL specializes in wet-chemical processes, SINGULUS' core competence is physical coating and atomization technology. SINGULUS' extensive know-how forms the optimum base for development of highly cost-efficient and fully-automated production lines.

Through its daughter company HamaTech APE GmbH & Co. KG the Semiconductor and Magnetic Storage Industries are served. For well over 20 years, HamaTech APE is the acknowledged world market leader for Photomask cleaning, bake and develop.

For more information, please click here

Katrien Marent, Director of External Communications, T: +32 16 28 18
80, Mobile : +32 474 30 28 66,

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