Friday, June 10, 2011

Maskless Lithography

One of the benefits of living in Silicon Valley is the number of events and activities in the area. One recent addition to my regular talk schedule is the monthly meeting held by the Northern California Chapter of OSA.

Last month they had invited Eric Hansotte from Maskless Lithography to give us a talk. When I looked him up online (of course that's what everyone does).. the first thing that showed up was - this Lasers Rock concert at CLEO/QELS in 2010! A guitar-playing scientist certainly rocks!

It was cool to meet Eric over dinner and listen to him speak about his work at Maskless Lithography. ML makes direct-write digital imaging lithography products for the PCB manufacture industry. Digital Lithography eliminates the need for a mask.

At ML they use a Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) based system which performs multiple exposure scans of the PCB, producing an effective gray-level "dosing" of the exposures. Stronger exposures have a tighter impulse response whereas low level exposures have a broader impulse response. These widths control the exposed feature width and lets them obtain features with finer spacing.

What is interesting is that a super-sharp impulse response would not provide enough variation in its base width (at different gray-levels) for this technique to work. So they actually prefer some amount of blur in their system. 

Good resolution + good speed + flexibility to update the pattern on a whim! Now who might own a projector we can take apart...

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