International Sematech and we launch joint development of EUVL Mask Substrate / blank inspection system


AUSTIN, TEXAS and YOKOHAMA, JAPAN (18 November 2002) -- International SEMATECH (ISMT) and Lasertec Corporation (Lasertec) announced today that ISMT and Lasertec have come to an agreement to jointly develop an EUVL Mask Substrate/Blank Inspection System by October, 2004. The joint development program will lay important groundwork for EUVL (Extreme Ultra Violet Lithography), the semiconductor industry's preferred technology for next generation lithography.

Under the terms of the agreement, Lasertec, a Japanese company specializing in inspection technology, and ISMT, the global consortium of chipmakers, will develop a new EUVL blank inspection tool, using Lasertec's multi-laser beam confocal technology, to meet the industry's future demand for EUV mask blank inspection.

International SEMATECH is dedicated to helping the industry develop the infrastructure needed for new lithography technologies," stated Betsy Weitzman, ISMT's chief operating officer for advanced technology. "Our partnership with Lasertec will speed the development of mask blanks, which are a critical component of any successful EUVL implementation."

EUVL (Extreme Ultra Violet Lithography) has been identified by the industry as the most promising candidate for next generation lithography; yet it poses significant challenges. In an effort to pursue finer patterning (smaller than 0.07um pattern rule), technologists from around the world are working on the implications of adopting a technology that uses 13.5nm wavelength exposure light and uses reflective masks instead of conventional transmitting masks during the exposure process.

EUV masks need to be almost entirely free of defects or foreign particles, both on the surface of the mask and within the multilayer films that make up the reflective layer. Some of these potential "killer" defects are so small that they are currently not detected by existing inspection systems, so a tool that can detect these defects will play an essential role in the success of the EUV blank manufacturing process. ISMT and Lasertec have therefore agreed that the industry needs a high-performance EUVL blank inspection tool, and have executed a joint development agreement to create it.

"We are pleased to be able to provide ISMT and the industry with our expertise in the field of mask blank inspection," said Kenichi Kosugi, President of Lasertec. "And we're particularly pleased that this represents ISMT's first joint development program with a private Japanese company. In our view, it is an excellent example of the benefits of cooperation between major chipmakers, represented by International SEMATECH, and global suppliers."

According to Y. Watakabe, Lasertec's Senior Managing Director, the EUVL substrate/blank inspection tool under development will have the capability of detecting 30nm foreign particles and defects within 60 minutes per substrate or blank. This performance will help speed the development of EUVL as a mainstream technology, and provide significant benefit not only to semiconductor manufacturers, but also to the manufacturers of blank substrates and mask blanks.

"It is our hope that this joint development will initiate more intensive R&D efforts around the world on EUVL technologies, and will accelerate the industry's ability to bring EUVL to fruition," said Kosugi.

"Mask blank inspection is a critical-path technology issue in the development of EUVL," stated Kurt R. Kimmel, Mask Strategy program manager for ISMT. "In fact, participants in the recent International EUVL Symposium identified 'defect-free multilayer coated mask blank manufacturing, including inspection' as one of the most urgent issues facing the industry in commercializing EUV lithography. We look forward to working with Lasertec on this significant challenge."


Lasertec Corporation (Lasertec; Head Office: Kouhoku-ku, Yokohama, Japan; President: Kenichi Kosugi), established in 1960, is a leading supplier of innovative semiconductor and LCD photomask inspection equipment worldwide. Product line includes reticle/photomask inspection system, phase shift measurement system, etching depth monitor, mask blank inspection system, wafer inspection system, LCD large area photomask inspection system, color filter inspection and repair system and various types of laser microscopes. To support this diverse product base, Lasertec has strategically-located sales and service offices and agents worldwide. Lasertec's revenues in their last fiscal year were 6.50 billion yen, or more than 55 million dollars. Lasertec is a publicly held company listed on JASDAQ.

About International SEMATECH

International SEMATECH (ISMT) is a global semiconductor technology development consortium that has effectively represented the semiconductor manufacturing industry on innovation issues since 1988; its members are Agere Systems, AMD, Hewlett-Packard, Hynix, IBM, Infineon, Intel, Motorola, Philips, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and TSMC. ISMT conducts state-of-the-art research, and is a highly-regarded technology partner whose mission is to promote the interests common to all chipmakers. It has extensive experience collaborating with equipment and materials suppliers, as well as government and academic research centers, to refine the tools and technology necessary to produce future generations of chips. Additional information may be found at