DNP Introduces Multi E-Beam Mask Writer to Strengthen Next-generation Semiconductor Photomask Production System by Significant Reduction of Writing Time

Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. (DNP) will strengthen its next-generation semiconductor photomask production system by introducing a multi e-beam mask writer to achieve significant reductions in writing time.


Currently available semiconductors are experiencing a shift to miniaturization, including configuration of 3D stacked some dozen nanometer circuits on silicon wafers. At present semiconductor manufacturing employs photolithography technology, but depending on the characteristics of light wavelengths, resolution is limited in some cases, and recourse is had to such technologies as multi-exposure that configures multiple photomasks onto a single layer, and optical proximity correction that configures photomasks with complicated patterns corrected for light attributes.

With multiple exposure technology, however, it is necessary to increase the photomask count, while optical correction technology entails a lengthy patterning period for each photomask. Hence, manufacturing next-generation photomask for the 10nm or less process requires several days for the writing process alone, and as it has been anticipated that the required amount of time may become even longer in the shift to further miniaturization, there have been calls for a manufacturing methodology capable of reducing writing time.

In response, as a merchant photomask maker, DNP will strengthen its semiconductor photomask production system by introducing the world’s first* multi e-beam mask writer, to achieve significant reductions in photomask writing time, and to facilitate high productivity.

* as of November 2016

[Multi E-Beam Mask Writer]

DNP has cooperated with semiconductor and lithography device manufacturers for a period of approximately five years in developing the multi e-beam mask writer. By utilizing a special aperture that controls light volume, with the new device it is possible to fire approximately 260,000 e-beams from a single electron gun. With existing techniques, next-generation photomask writing has required more than 18 hours, and as much as several days depending on the minimum line width of the semiconductor circuit pattern. But, by achieving high e-beam precision, for photomask used in the 7nm process of each semiconductor manufacturer, it is now possible to reduce writing time to approximately 10 hours. Further time reductions will become feasible with next-next generation semiconductor photomasks as they increasingly shift to miniaturization.

[Looking Ahead]

In addition to strengthening the next-generation semiconductor photomask supply system, DNP will also accelerate joint development with semiconductor manufacturers, at the same time as supporting production systems at each manufacturer on a global basis, and endeavoring to achieve the standardization of next-generation semiconductor photomask processes.

The Company will also apply the multi e-beam mask writer in the manufacture of nanoimprint lithography templates used in 3D stacked NAND flash memories that are expected to see significantly increased demand.   

DNP will further strengthen the miniaturization-driven next-generation semiconductor photomask supply system, aiming for uses with the IoT-driven big data management, and artificial intelligence.

The Company aims for annual sales of 6.0 billion yen in FY 2019 as a result of the strengthening of photomask manufacturing systems based on the multi e-beam mask writer.

* Product prices, specification and service contents mentioned in this news release are current as of the date of publication. They may be changed at any time without notice.