Journal of Micro/Nanolithography, MEMS, and MOEMSElectrostatic risk to reticles in the nanolithography era
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Reticles can be damaged by electric field as well as by the conductive transfer of charge. As device feature sizes have moved from the micro- into the nano-regime, reticle sensitivity to electric field has been increasing owing to the physics of field induction. Hence, the predominant risk to production reticles today is from exposure to electric field. Measurements of electric field that illustrate the extreme risk faced by today’s production reticles are presented. It is shown that some of the standard methods used for prevention of electrostatic discharge in semiconductor manufacturing, being based on controlling static charge and voltage, do not offer reticles adequate protection against electric field. In some cases, they actually increase the risk of reticle damage. Methodology developed specifically to protect reticles against electric field is required, which is described in SEMI Standard E163. Measurements are also presented showing that static dissipative plastic is not an ideal material to use for the construction of reticle pods as it both generates and transmits transient electric field. An appropriate combination of insulating material and metallic shielding is shown to provide the best electrostatic protection for reticles, with fail-safe protection only being possible if the reticle is fully shielded within a metal Faraday cage.