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T able of Contents

Contents What is a Photo-Mask? ...................................................................................... 7
How are Photo-Masks Made? ............................................................................................... 8 Where are Photo-Masks Used?........................................................................................... 12 How are Photo-Masks Used? .............................................................................................. 12

The Material Substrates ................................................................................... 15
Glass Specifications............................................................................................................ 17 Chrome Specifications ........................................................................................................ 18 Polyester Specifications ...................................................................................................... 18 Write Areas ......................................................................................................................... 19

Tolerances & Resolutions................................................................................. 21
Resolutions ......................................................................................................................... 21 Feature Tolerances ............................................................................................................. 22 Dimensional Tolerances ...................................................................................................... 23

Capabilities ....................................................................................................... 25
Equipment Specifications .................................................................................................... 26

Designing Your Mask........................................................................................ 29
Design Rules ...................................................................................................................... 29 Composite Layers ............................................................................................................... 31 Choosing Formats............................................................................................................... 35 Fixing Drawing Errors.......................................................................................................... 35

Dimensional Stability ........................................................................................ 37
Dimensional Factors ........................................................................................................... 38 Irreversible dimensional changes. ....................................................................................... 39 Acclimatisation of masks before use.................................................................................... 40 Main Points ......................................................................................................................... 41

Quality Control .................................................................................................. 43
PRE Verification / Inspection ............................................................................................... 43 POST Verification / Inspection............................................................................................. 44 Defects ............................................................................................................................... 45

Ordering Your Mask.......................................................................................... 47
6 Steps to Ordering ............................................................................................................. 48 The Order Form .................................................................................................................. 50 Terminology ........................................................................................................................ 52 Other factors ....................................................................................................................... 52 Orders & Payment............................................................................................................... 53

Handling, Cleaning, Storage............................................................................. 57
Handling the mask .............................................................................................................. 58 Cleaning the masks............................................................................................................. 59 Storage of the masks .......................................................................................................... 60

Other services and products............................................................................. 61
Photo-Tooling ..................................................................................................................... 61 Large Format Tooling .......................................................................................................... 62 Scanning / Reverse Engineering ......................................................................................... 63 CAD Data Preparation......................................................................................................... 64 CAD Conversions ............................................................................................................... 64

Company Structure ........................................................................................... 65
Contacts & Details............................................................................................................... 66 Environmental Policy........................................................................................................... 67 Privacy Policy ..................................................................................................................... 68 Returns Policy..................................................................................................................... 69

Glossary............................................................................................................ 71 Quick Reference ............................................................................................... 75

Revision 1 – Dec 2009 Revision 2 – April 2010 Revision 3 – March 2011 Revision 4 – Sept 2011 Revision 5 – Oct 2012

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1

Chapter

What is a Photo-Mask?
A simple overview on what photo-masks are – how they are made and how they are used.

A photo-mask is an opaque plate or film with transparent areas that allow light to shine through in a defined pattern. They are commonly used in photolithography processes, but are also used in many other applications by a wide range of industries and technologies. They are made on Soda Lime glass, on Fused Silica (Quartz) and even on polyester film. The mask acts as a template, and is designed to optically transfer patterns to wafers or other substrates in order to fabricate devices of all types. Current lithographic tools project light through a photomask and a high aperture lens. The intensity of the light casts an image of the device's design ( the pattern on the photomask) onto a substrate; such as a silicon wafer coated with a light sensitive material called photoresist. Using negative photoresist the unexposed, or masked, portion of this material is then removed so it can either be etched to form channels or be deposited with other materials. (The process is reversed using positive photoresist.) Photomasks, requiring sophisticated manufacturing techniques and complex mathematical algorithms to design, are at the forefront of the microminiaturization of chips, enabling more functionality to be embedded within a smaller area. This trend in making devices as powerful and as small as possible facilitates the proliferation of handheld and other portable electronic applications. Photomasks have always been a necessary component in the Micro Manufacturing process. There are three types of base material used to make photo-masks; Soda Lime (SL), Quartz, and polyester film. Soda Lime is the most common material for photo-masks, and typical glass mask sizes (SL and Quartz) can range from 3 inches square to 7 inches square, but even 14” square and 20” square are produced in our production facilities. The thickness of the plates ranges from 60 mils to 250 mils depending upon the size of the plate being imaged. Currently the most common sizes of masks used are 5 inches square 60 mils thick and 7 inches square 120 mils thick. Film photo-masks have less constraints on size, and can be made on sheets from 25cm x 30cm (10” x 12”) , upto a huge 3m long x 1m wide (120” x 40”) . The polyester base on the film is 0.18mm thick (7 mils).

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How are Photo-Masks Made?
The pattern information is created by our customers in a drawing package, often in AutoCAD or other suitable software packages such as L-Edit. The data is sent to us by a variety of methods, such as email or ftp, and then our engineers begin the sometimes difficult process of preparing the data. This data is processed into our internal CAD format (Gerber) and transferred to a lithography tool – our mask writer – which then exposes the design onto the mask substrate. We use the same equipment and exposure process for both glass & film photo-masks. Depending upon which substrate is used, the mask is then processed according to strictly controlled manufacturing processes in our wet-rooms. Once the manufacturing process is finished, the mask is cleaned and inspected, ready to be shipped to the customer. The following process flow is a simplified description of these tasks – note however, that there are lots of other tests and inspections that are carried out between nearly all the stages of the process flow.

Process flow for manufacturing a Photo-mask

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Step 1 – Data Preparation

Mask data preparation (MDP) is the step that translates an intended set of designs and layers into a form that can be physically written by the photo-mask writer. Usually this involves processing complex polygons into a data format such as Gerber. Typically a design is delivered to mask data preparation in DXF or GDSii format, and quite often the design needs re-formatting to fix drawing errors that have been created when constructing the design. Data preparation is a crucial step in the making of a mask – and incorrectly formatted designs are the number one factor in delays in manufacturing. Quite often, the design software just isn’t up-to the job of creating photo-mask designs, and in those cases our engineers have to interpret the design requirements, create sometimes complex composite layers and export the complete package ready for the customer to approve. Once the design has been formatted, a PDF checkplot is sent to the customer for approval before moving onto the next stage.
Step 2 – Exposure

Our imager is a flat bed, granite based system capable of exposing both glass and film substrates. It has a photohead, mounted onto a Y stage of the coordinate table. The co-ordinate table transports the photohead to those areas of the mask where the relevant images are to be placed. A Zaxis controls the photohead depth, thus allowing for different material thicknesses to be used. Two fast internal PCs working are networked within the imager and act as internal controllers do all the intelligent processing involved with data handling, and the imager communicates data via a high speed network A laser exposes short, high energy flashes of light, which are directed onto a modulating digital micromirror (DMD). This matrix consists of a bank of tiny square mirrors that can be tilted electronically into one of two orientations. With the mirrors tilted in one orientation, the light from the mirror goes thorough the optical system to image the mask, in the other orientation the light is absorbed. This matrix is then projected through a series of lenses and optically reduced onto the pre-sensitised material, giving a pixel size of 0.8um
Frame 1 Frame 2 Frame 3 Frame 4 Frame 5

This configuration a darkroom enlarger where the matrix sits in place of the slide and the laser takes the place of the projection lamp. The film or chrome plate acts as the photo paper. Each projected picture represents a small area of the whole mask. To get a complete image you have to add as many pictures (frames) as the mask requires. The Y-motor moves the photohead continuously along the Y axis of the plotter whilst a linear encoder tracks the position and triggers the next flash at the correct point. The encoders then move the head one step over in the X direction, and the imaging process re-begins. Each frame is stitched together to give the overall mask image.

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Step 3 – Chrome Process

The quartz / glass (substrate) has a layer of chrome on one side. The chrome is covered with an AR (anti-reflective) coating and a photosensitive resist. The substrate with chrome, AR, and resist is known as a blank.

The mask blank is placed on the bed of the mask-writer and imaged. The light sensitive particles on the resist absorb the light, and this creates a latent image in the photoresist layer. Nothing can yet be seen on the mask until the development process.

The next stage is for development. The development of the resist makes the unexposed parts of the resist soft, and these dissolve out of the mask layer. This leaves just the pattern of the device, which now acts as a mask itself to stop the etching of the chrome.

Etching is a chemical process to selectively remove the chrome parts of the mask that are not required. It is one of the most critical steps, and requires inspection before and after this process. The chrome is protected from the etchant where the photo-resist remains, although careful control has to take place to ensure that the image is not under/over etched.

The final chemical process is to strip the remaining photo-resist. This leaves us with chrome on soda lime/quartz pattern, with a thin Anti reflective coating on top (this coating can further be removed if specifically required).

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Step 3 – Film Process

Film In
Dry Wash Fix Develop

Film Out

The film is fed into the processor after imaging via a series of rollers, and undergoes some chemical changes through the development of the image. Development changes the exposed silver halide crystals into ‘black’ particles in the emulsion layer. The development times and temperatures are critical for maintaining the correct CD of the mask, and the transportation of the film from one step to another needs to be finely tuned. Fresh chemicals are added to the tanks in pre-defined rates according to the mask size, and the chemistry is pumped and re-circulated through the tank to ensure correct dilution. Fixation is the next chemical process and is necessary to stop the development reactions and obtain a stable image. At this stage, the unexposed silver halide is washed out of the film and the base dyes are cleared. Just like during development, fixer is consumed during the process, and materials washed out of the film build up in the fixer tank. Fixer replenishment helps to counteract these processes. Following adequate fixation, it is important to wash the film to remove residual processing chemicals and byproducts. Again, careful replenishment rates are set to ensure that the wash stage is clean and free of contaminates (which are washed to drain). The chemical and wash phases are complete and all that remains is to dry the film. At this stage the most important factors are adequate drying of the film while maintaining good dimensional stability.
Step 4– Clean

The masks go through a robust cleaning process before they are sent to final inspection. The benefit of using a glass based photo-mask is that they are much easier to clean – the glass and chrome surface can be treated with a variety of chemicals, with no detriment to the image or surface quality, whereas film photomasks are much more delicate and have to be treated with care.

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Step 5 – Inspect

Once the mask has been processed and cleaned, we then have to inspect it for accuracy / quality / defects and flaws that can sometimes affect the final product. The inspection process includes a visual inspection, the measurement of an image coupon or similar, and a surface inspection. Orders that have specified Certificate of Conformity requirements will then further go onto the CMM machines for detailed reports.
Step 6 – Dispatch

Once an order is finalised, we package the mask carefully and arrange dispatch directly to the customer. We ship by registered methods throughout the world, and you will be emailed your tracking number on dispatch of the mask.

Where are Photo-Masks Used?

Photo-masks play the role of photographic negative film in the manufacturing of devices such as chips or LCD panels. Chrome plates are commonly used as the choice of substrates on which detailed images or patterns are formed, although polyester films are also common in low cost / low technology applications. The patterns or images are then transferred onto the wafer surfaces by shining lights through the photo-mask plates, just like the negative films that are used to project images on to photographic papers. Since the precision and accuracy of the pattern geometry on the photo-mask affects device quality, the photo-mask is considered as a key integral part of overall semiconductor technologies.

Photo-masks are used in wafer fabrication, microfluidics, strain gauges, MEMS, Optics, flat panel displays, BioMed, PC boards.... but are also used in many other applications by a wide range of industries and technologies.

How are Photo-Masks Used?
Our glass masks are used in a variety of different applications and processes, but one of the most common procedures is to use the mask in a ‘mask aligner’. One of the most important steps in the photolithography process is mask alignment. The mask is aligned with the wafer, so that the pattern can be transferred onto the wafer surface. Many MEMS devices are made with multiple materials and multiple layers, so in that case each mask after the first one must be aligned to the previous pattern for the device to work correctly. Sometimes the alignment between these layers is super critical, and complex expensive machinery is required.
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Once the mask has been accurately aligned with the pattern on the wafer's surface, the photoresist is exposed through the pattern on the mask with a high intensity ultraviolet light. There are three primary exposure methods: contact, proximity, and projection.
Contact Printing

In contact printing, the resist-coated silicon wafer (or other substrate) is brought into physical contact with the glass photo-mask. The wafer is held on a vacuum chuck, and the whole assembly rises until the wafer and mask contact each other. The photoresist is exposed with UV light while the wafer is in contact position with the mask. Because of the contact between the resist and mask, very high resolution is possible in contact printing (e.g. 1-micron features in 0.5 microns of positive resist). The problem with contact printing is that debris, trapped between the resist and the mask, can damage the mask and cause defects in the pattern.
Proximity Printing

The proximity exposure method is similar to contact printing except that a small gap, 10 to 25 microns wide, is maintained between the wafer and the mask during exposure. This gap minimizes (but may not eliminate) wafer damage. Approximately 2- to 4-micron resolution is possible with proximity printing.
Projection Printing

Projection printing, avoids mask damage entirely. An image of the patterns on the mask is projected onto the resist-coated wafer, which is many centimetres away. In order to achieve high resolution, only a small portion of the mask is imaged. This small image field is scanned or stepped over the surface of the wafer. Projection printers that step the mask image over the wafer surface are called step-and-repeat systems. Step-and-repeat projection printers are capable of approximately 1-micron resolution.

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2

Chapter

The material substrates
Masks are typically made on Soda Lime glass, Quartz (fused silica) or Polyester Film. Choosing the correct substrate will depend very much on your applications, the type of features and accuracy that you need, the type of light source that you will use (if it is being used in a photo-lithographic process) and of course, the budget that you have for the project. The first substrate that we can offer you is Soda Lime Glass; this is the most common substrate used for masks, due to its good quality/price ratio. The glass is optically good, very flat and has no imperfections. When covered in chrome, the mask is very durable and hard wearing, and can easily cope with many contact print / clean processes due to its robustness. If used in a photolithographic process, the mask can be used with a very wide variety of light sources from 350nm upwards, with an excellent UV transparency. Soda Lime Glass has a low thermal co-efficient expansion (which means it is dimensionally accurate in differing environments). Glass masks usually have a Chrome layer sputtered on them, into which the image is etched. This chrome layer is very hard and durable, so is an excellent material due to its robust properties. Chrome can be cleaned with many different abrasive and caustic chemicals with very little detriment to the image, so is a natural choice. The chrome has an optical density of 3.0 at 450nm, and a reflectivity of 11% at 436nm. To avoid any possible problems in exposure, the chrome surface is given a very thin anti-reflective ‘tarnish’ which avoids light reflecting and bouncing around during photo-lithography. As standard, we supply all chrome masks with this AR (antireflective) coating, although this can be removed if you prefer.

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The second substrate that we can offer is Quartz or sometimes called Fused Silica; this is equally a very good substrate, and probably the most common for ‘high-end’ applications such as semiconductor chips. There are a couple of mechanical benefits of quartz over standard soda lime glass – firstly the quartz material is optically pure, with a very high transmission of light even at very low UV wavelengths of less than 175nm. The second major benefit of quartz is that it remains dimensionally stable even in extreme temperatures. Quite often, quartz is the chosen substrate used in laser ablation applications, where low wavelengths are used to project through the mask and ablate the surface of various materials. The final substrate that we can offer is polyester film. This is a typical substrate used in the photographic process, and forms the most common substrate in applications that involve general multiple exposures (such as PCBs, etching, printing etc). Polyester is excellent due to its lowcost nature, but must be handled carefully and used in controlled environments if dimensional accuracy is required. Films used for photo-masks have the following component layers: a plastic base, a photosensitive emulsion layer (silver halide) and a backing layer. This plastic base is polyester material, and has a thickness of 0.18 mm. The emulsion layer is composed of gelatine and silver halide and other chemicals, which adds another 0.005mm in total.

When we expose the film in the imager, the light energy from the laser interacts with the silver halide crystals suspended in the coated gelatine layers. Development, a chemical process, converts exposed silver halide grains into metallic silver. The next step in the chemical process is fixation. The fixer stops development and removes the unexposed silver halide grains in non-image areas. Finally, the film is washed/dried/cleaned and inspected. The final result is a ‘black’ image coated on one side of the polyester base. The density of the film is very high, typically Dlog of 4.5 – 5, giving it an excellent opacity to all common light sources. Two concerns with emulsion film over glass are stability and robustness. Both the polyester and the gelatine absorb moisture and heat from their surroundings, and as such they undergo dimensional changes – quite considerably for some large area films. The other problem with the Gelatine/Emulsion is that it is relatively soft and must be handled carefully to avoid damage and scratches. Our photo-mask films are produced in conditions of 21deg C / 50% humidity, and if dimensional accuracy is a concern when using the polyester mask, then you must replicate these conditions in your own clean rooms and acclimatise the mask in these conditions for upto 8 hours before you intend to use it – only then can it be considered to be dimensionally accurate and stable. We strongly recommend using glass based substrates where dimensional stability is a concern.

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Glass Specifications

Below is a list of glass substrates that are available. We recommend Soda Lime materials for all high resolution masks, and quartz if exposure wavelengths of <350nm are being used. We do not stock White Crown or Borofloat; although they are available on request (minimum order quantities apply).

Optical Light Transmission Percentage

Wavelength.

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Chrome Specifications
As standard, we stock Low Reflective Chrome in all sizes. Other reflectivities (HIGH and MEDIUM) are available on request.

Polyester Specifications

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Write Areas
There are limitations to the area of the mask that we can write onto – depending upon the substrate used. Both substrates are written on the same flat bed, granite based machine and both share the same origin points, but the way that the substrates are manufactured and then loaded onto the machine will make a difference in the area of the mask that can be written.
Film Masks

The unexposed film’s are fed onto the mask writer automatically and positioned in the bottom left corner of the bed. A vacuum is drawn down to hold the film in place, and then imaging begins. The way that the emulsion is coated onto the film means that we could theoretically image 100% of the substrate, but the slight variation in film positioning means that we don’t allow any part of the image to be within 0.3” (7.5mm) of the edge of the film. This outer area is taken up with non-critical data such as the job references and film alignment targets.
Glass Masks

WRITE AREA

The mask blanks are hand placed onto the imager bed by hand, and are aligned using a tooling set. This allows much more accurate positioning than film; however the way that the masks are manufactured means that we also have an area that we cannot write Quality to. We can write on virtually the whole area of the plate, but any CD’s (critical Area dimensions) and any toleranced features must fall within a circle shape, that is 0.4” diameter smaller than the mask blank. This is because the resist is slightly thicker in the corners and edges, where it builds up during the spinning process. We use ‘fringeless’ blanks wherever possible, so can certainly image outside of this area, but usually customers only put text, references, alignment marks in this outer area.

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Profiling / Cutting
Film Masks

Film masks can easily be cut to shape with a simple guillotine, a sharp knife or even a pair of scissors. Please ensure that you protect the emulsion face of the film adequately, and obviously protect the mask from contaminates. We can offer this as a service if required – let us know your requirements beforehand.
Glass Masks

Glass masks are more difficult to handle, and can be processed in two different methods.... we have the ability to cut and bevel the glass masks as an in-house process. This is done via a simple scribe/break technique that glass cutters all over the world are familiar with. We can apply bevels afterwards, if required, to take away sharp edges and apply chamfers. Because this is a manual process, it’s fairly inaccurate and we can only achieve tolerances of +- 1.5mm on the overall dimensions of the mask, and +- 20% on chamfer angles. This is an extra paying service, and we are happy to quote for this upon submission of the specifications. Our in house service is fairly quick, and sometimes may delay shipping by one day, but quite often can also be achieve with no delay at all. We also have a third party glass processing company that we work closely with. The tolerances are much tighter at +- 0.5mm, and the edges are much cleaner on the chamfer. There is an extra cost for using this service, and this can also add upto 5 days onto the production time (which includes extra shipping, extra cleaning etc). For multiple parts, where quantities are bigger, or intricate shapes are required, we can also send masks away for micro waterjet cutting. This is the most accurate method and gives the best finish, and parts can be cut from CAD layouts. This service adds upto 2 weeks onto the final delivery time.

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Tolerances & Resolutions
Resolutions

3

Chapter

Our Maskwriter is capable of imaging at 4 different resolutions: 16,000 dpi, 32,000 dpi, 64,000 dpi and 128,000 dpi, which we refer to as LOW, MEDIUM, HIGH and SUPER-HIGH resolutions. We also have other imaging equipment that is capable of lower resolutions (from 2000 dpi upwards), although these very low resolutions would never be suitable for fine line photo-masks. The resolution equates to the minimum addressability of the mask writer, and can also be thought of as the ‘edge quality’ of features that are written. Generally, the mask writer needs to image a minimum of 8 pixels to give enough energy to ‘expose’ the photo-resist, so at SUPER-HIGH resolution the minimum feature would be (8 x 0.1984um) = 1.5872 um's (depending upon type of feature/geometry) When writing glass masks directly on the maskwriter, our default resolution is SUPER-HIGH to ensure the best quality and accuracy. However, where masks have coarse features, you may also choose HIGH resolution. When imaging polyester films, we then have a choice of resolutions to use. Photographic film has a silver ‘grain’ size of approx. 25,000 dpi. However, even though the grain size is smaller than our maximum imaging resolutions, we still recommend higher resolutions due to the ‘nucleation’ effect of the silver halide material. There is no ‘rule’ for choosing resolutions on a film mask, because each customer and sometimes each project has a different set of criteria and requirements. As a general guideline you could take the following into account. v On polyester film masks, we image with SUPER-HIGH resolution for films with features less than 15um, or where the customer requires the utmost accuracy and quality. v If a design has very small features (<30 um) or the design contains arcs and circles or lines at angles other than 0/90 deg, then customers may choose HIGH resolution. v When features are bigger (say in the region of >50um) then you may also choose MEDIUM resolution for the film masks. v Finally, we only recommend imaging at LOW resolution when the feature sizes are quite large (100 um +) and all of the features are lines at either 0 or 90 degrees.
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Figure 1 - Guidelines for choosing resolutions

Feature Tolerances
There are two different values that we specify for tolerances. The first is a ‘feature tolerance’, which equates to one specific feature (also known as CD or Critical Dimension). So, if part of your mask design has a 12um channel and this is a critical feature, you can use the table below to work out possible deviations to the channel width, depending upon which resolution you choose. As a rule, the higher the resolution, then the more accurate the individual feature size will be.
Table 1 - Given for straight line features on a 90 degree orthoganality

Resolution
LOW MEDIUM HIGH SUPER HIGH HIGH SUPER HIGH

Material
Polyester Film Polyester Film Polyester Film Polyester Film Chrome on SL Glass Chrome on SL Glass

Tolerance
+6 +3.3 +1.8 +1.5 +1.4 +0.8 -5 -2.8 -1.6 -1.3 -1.4 -0.8

Tolerance based on ((1/Resolution)*25400)*3+0.2. All figures above in Microns.

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Dimensional Tolerances
The second tolerance that customers ask us about is that of overall dimensional tolerances. These refer to the tolerances over a distance greater then 5mm – in layman’s terms, people ask us ‘how accurate will the mask be’ and these guidelines should go somewhere towards providing the tolerances in overall dimensions ,depending upon the resolution chosen. Again, it goes without saying that the higher the resolution, then the more accurate the final mask.

Resolution

Microns
L = measuring length in MM

LOW MEDIUM HIGH SUPER HIGH

= 6.4 + (L * 0.015) um = 3.2 + (L * 0.015) um = 1.6 + (L * 0.015) um = 0.8 + (L * 0.015) um

Example using the above chart…. Dimensional Accuracy at Med Res over 75mm is 3.2+ ((75 * 0.015) = 4.32um

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Capabilities

4
Standard Service Smallest – 3” x 3” x 0.060” Largest – 20” x 20” x 0.197” Soda Lime, Quartz Chrome 64,000 dpi 128,000 dpi On Special Request Upto 36” x 24” Borosilicate, Low Expansion Photographic Emulsion, Aluminium, Iron Oxide, ITO 32,000 dpi 1.5um On Request Upto 118” x 39” Soda Lime Glass 2000, 4000, 8000 dpi 5um

Chapter

We are constantly striving to improve our manufacturing standards, and as a by-product of this our capabilities change on a regular basis. Each year we have a healthy mixture of new capital equipment, improved processes and the introduction of specialist technology which all go together to considerably improve our quality and accuracy of work, and at the same time these improvements have reduced feature sizes way below the previous limitations whilst maintaining the very fastest of services to our customers.

Glass Photo-Masks
Sizes Available Substrates Coating Resolutions Minimum Feature / CD

2.5um Standard Smallest – 10” x 12” x 0.007” Largest – 36” x 24” x 0.007” Polyester 16,000 dpi 32,000 dpi 64,000 dpi 128,000 dpi 10um

Emulsion Photo-Masks
Sizes Available Substrates Resolutions Minimum Feature / CD

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Equipment Specifications
Data Input
Email FTP Web Upload Post Jd.orders@jdphoto.co.uk for production orders, otherwise sales@jdphoto.co.uk FTP ftp.photomask.co.uk USERNAME photomask_co_uk PASSWORD photomask Our preferred method. Visit www.photo-mask.co.uk JD Photo-Tools, Meridian Centre, King St, Oldham, OL8 1EZ

Data Type
Vector Formats Bitmap Formats PCB Formats CAD Types Other Gerber, DXF, GDSii, CIF, IED3, Sonnet, Lasi TLC, ACIS SAT, BDF, Compass, HPGL, Postscript JPG, BMP, PNG, GIF, XPN plus many others ODB++, ODBx, Barco DPF, CAM350, IPC356, IPC2581, Pads Ascii, GerbTool, VisualCAM, Ucam, GC CAM, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, AutoCAD All other formats supported by use of Postscript proprietary format

Film Imager
Maximum image size: Maximum film size: Film sub sizes: Resolution Accuracy: Plotting time: Media 26” x 36” / 660 mm x 914 mm 31” x 38” / 780 mm x 960 mm 12” x 10” / 300 mm x 240 mm, 15” x 12” / 380 mm x 300 mm 20” x 16” / 508 mm x 410 mm, 20” x 24” / 508 mm x 610 mm, 24” x 30” / 610 mm x 762 mm, 24” x 36” / 610 mm x 914 mm 16000 dpi, 32000 dpi, 64000 dpi ± 0.2 mil / 4 µm –repeatability depending upon resolution 10.4 min. at 64000 dpi for 10cm x 10cm Polyester film, 0.007” thick

Glass Imager
Maximum image size: Maximum glass size: Glass sub sizes: Resolution Accuracy: Plotting time: Media 24” x 36” / 660 mm x 914 mm 31” x 38” / 780 mm x 960 mm 3”, 4”, 5”, 7”, 9”, 12”, 14”, 16”, 20”, 24” 32000 dpi, 64000 dpi, 128000 dpi ± 0.2 mil / 4 µm –repeatability depending upon resolution 25.6 min. at 128000 dpi for 10cm x 10cm Soda Lime Glass, Quartz, Polyester film

Plot Imager 1
Maximum image size: Maximum film size: Film sub sizes: Resolution Minimum feature size: Accuracy: Plotting time: Media 32” x 28” / 810 mm x 720 mm 31.89 x27.4 ” / 610 mm x 715 mm 17.9” x 23.4”, 21.89” x 27.4” 4000 dpi, 8000 dpi, 10000 dpi, 16000 dpi, 20000 dpi 1.4 mil / 35 µm ± <0.16 mil (4 μm) 7.3 min. at 2000 dpi for 45cm x 60cm Polyester film, 0.007” thick

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Large Format
Maximum image size: Maximum film size: Film sub sizes: Resolution Minimum feature size: Accuracy: Plotting time: Media 42” x 118” / 1065 mm x 3000 mm 44” x 120” / 1116 mm x 3050 mm Various – please ask 2000 dpi, 4000 dpi 1.4 mil / 35 µm, ± 0.5 mil / 12.5 µm -absolute 3 min. at 2000 dpi for 45cm x 60cm Polyester film, 0.007” thick

Inspection
Nikon MM40 OGP Smart 600 OGP Zip 300 Scanning AOI Other Microscope, Motorised stage, upto 900x magnification, camera capture, +-0.1um accuracy Automated measuring machine, upto 700x420mm, 400x magnification, camera capture Automated measuring machine upto 350x300mm, 500x magnification, camera capture 210mm x 297mm, 4800 dpi optical comparator, +- 10um accuracy on features 200x, 100x, 50x peak measuring microscopes

Reverse Eng.
Media Resolutions Size Output Formats Artworks, panels, films, masks, sheet metal, flat parts, diazo 100dpi, 200dpi, 500dpi, 1000 dpi, 2000 dpi, 4800 dpi 210mm x 297mm, calibrated with Glass Grid, +- 35um dimensional accuracy Gerber, DXF, GDSii, ODB++

Other
Punch Tooling Duplicate Contacts Duplicate Contacts Environment 6mm punched holes in film. Allows accurate registration with pinbars UV Film and Glass contacts and duplicates, 570mm x 570mm max film size Orthochromatic, film contacts, vacuum bed, A0 size 21deg C +-1 degree, 50% humidity +- 5% Data logged recorded every 10 mins, with alarms

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Designing Your Mask

5

Chapter

It doesn’t matter what type of mask you need, they all need to start out with a design. The design process is the most critical, because any flaws here will follow through into the final mask – and onto your device. There are many CAD packages used for the design of Photo-Masks, and some of these depend upon your final application. For example, one CAD tool may be used for the layout of a complex IC but you may use a different tool for the layout of a biofluidic device. It doesn’t matter which tool you decide upon – the import step is to extract the design data correctly and write the information to the mask. Our preferred format for CAD data is ‘Gerber’. This is a simple X-Y documented file that can contain shapes, arrays and connectivity information, and is the default format used by the PCB and etching industries. It’s unlikely that your chosen CAD package can export as Gerber format, so we need to use tools to convert your chosen format into Gerber. We use internally a program called ‘LinkCAD’. This program facilitates the exchange of design data between various CAD systems and mask writing machines. LinkCAD tries to preserve as much as information as possible when converting a design from one format to another. However, some CAD formats contain graphical entities that do not have an equivalent entity in another format, and hence we need to lay down some design rule guides to follow. The rules below are aimed at AutoCAD users, but may be taken as a good guideline to follow regardless of your chosen CAD format.

Design Rules

Rule 1: Use zero-width closed polylines

No matter what CAD system you use, draw filled areas using zerowidth closed polylines. In AutoCAD, use the close command to completely close the polyline. Areas drawn using zero-width closed polylines appear as filled areas on your mask, even though some CAD systems, such as AutoCAD, only display the contour of the bound area. If you are using AutoCAD, you may also use SOLID entities to draw filled areas. This has the advantage that AutoCAD fills the solids interior.

Rule 2: Close open boundaries

Filled areas are often bound by a series of zero-width polylines. For instance, the drawing to the left consists of a polyline with straight line segments, and a polyline with an arc segment. If you want to fill the interior of the drawing, you need to join the two polylines, and create a single zero-width closed polyline.

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Rule 3: No self-intersection

A polyline may not self-intersect. If it does, the result is unpredictable. A polyline may, however, touch itself. This is called a re-entrant boundary, and it can be used to draw filled areas containing holes, as in the drawing below...
Figure 2 - Drawing filled areas with holes using re-entrant boundaries

Rule 4: Drawing islands & Holes

Islands and holes are areas of clear mask surrounded by dark mask. A very common mistake is to simply draw the island area as a figure surrounded by the metallised area. This is not going to work as the outer area will cover the hole. The designer drew the figure [A] expecting to get figure [B]. Instead, the mask came back as in figure [C]. The mistake was that the inner polygons were covered while filling the outer polygon.
Figure A B C

There are a couple of different methods for creating Islands / Holes in the drawing. The first method is to create a separate layer for the outer and inner polygons. And the most powerful technique is to use composite layers. The data on any layer can be added or subtracted from data on another layer.

The second method is to use two separate drawing items and snap them together. You can use two separate boundaries that butt up against each other to form the frame. However, only use a closed polyline – because if you use lines, most likely they will be linked incorrectly to form a self intersecting boundary.

The third method is a re-entrant boundary. This method to realize an island is to go into the interior of your polygon and out again via the same path. This is called a re-entrant boundary and is best done using a closed zero width polyline.

Please see the section on Composite Layers for more information

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Rule 5: Use Blocks

The typical mask may have hundreds of Donuts, Solid Rounds or Solid Rectangles. While you could draw each one on AutoCAD as a donut or circle, there is a more efficient way. The trick is to use a Block command for each element. In AutoCAD, you can define each figure as a block and then use the centre of the figure as the reference point of the block. Give each block a short name. Using the block insert command, insert the block at the appropriate position.
Rule 6: Drawing errors to avoid.

v Extraneous lines that touch the boundaries. These are detected by the post processor and may affect your photo-mask. These are extremely hard to see if they are covered by another larger line. v Figures insides of figures: The larger outer figure will cover up the inner figure v Boundaries that self intersect v Hatching - this is a visual aid only, and will not appear in the DXF file v Truetype fonts - again, this is not supported by DXF files. All fonts must be compiled into SHX fonts before using them. Enclose any SXH fonts newly compiled along with your data. v Do not use Scale or Rotate within blocks. This is not supported v Don't use AutoCAD's trace entity. v If your drawing contains unused layers and blocks, erase these layers/blocks and purge the drawing file to eliminate the extraneous data.

Composite Layers
Above we briefly discussed the method for creating islands and holes. The most powerful, and easiest method to achieve this, is via Composite Layers. A composite layer is one that is made up of many other layers, with each individual layer having its own properties. Composite layers are the best method when designing in a CAD package that doesn’t support the theory of holes, such as AutoCAD.

Above is a 6 layer composite design. In the following section you will see how the layers are built in our own internal CAD formatting. We will describe how to create this affect based on an AutoCAD design. This sample design will assume a mixture of both Darkfield and Lightfield parts on one mask, with concentric parts and using borders.

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Stage 1: Why composites?

AutoCAD doesn’t understand the property of a filled shape – or polygon. The nearest it comes is by using a zero width closed polyline – a line that has no actual width, but represents a boundary that is closed. Mask imaging systems use these boundaries to “fill in” the area – so in effect, this boundary represents an area that needs filling. You can have as many of these on the design as you need, but there are times when you want to also have things ‘inside’ this boundary... this is where composites come in. AutoCAD does have a ‘solid fill’ that can represent a filled area, but even this wouldn’t be able to cope with ‘holes’ in the design. Some people refer to this as ‘paint’ and ‘scratch’. The first item is ‘painted’ on the design and the second item is ‘scratched’ away from it.

This is what the customer designed in Autocad

This is how the mask will look when imaged

When the above mask was imaged, the result was one large covered block. This is because we had to fill the polygons, but every polygon was on the same layer so the outer one flooded over the inner data (don’t worry, we would obviously spot something this bad in CAD , and you would also see it on the PDF checkplot, but we will use this example as an extreme!) To image the mask correctly, the AutoCAD design above needs to be split into multiple layers. Each group of items that sit “inside” a polyline boundary (P-line) needs to be placed on a separate layer, in order for them to be painted and scratched (Dark or Clear). In addition to setting layers depending upon polarity (dark/clear), we also need to consider that each different group of entities also needs to be placed on their own separate layers depending on how we deal with them, because we can only automatically process items on a layer by layer basis, and not an item by item basis (this can actually be done on an item basis, but that would be controlled manually and not automatically, and therefore there would be a CAD processing cost involved) When we process a layer, we have to say whether it’s Dark or Clear, and we have to also tell our system whether to FILL or UNFILL the layer. If you take the example design above, we cannot FILL the layer with the targets on because otherwise the whole circle would be completely filled and loose the centre crosshair. Similarly with the text – if we chose to fill this layer then the letter ‘D”, “P”, “O” etc would become filled and unreadable. It’s because of this reason that these items must be grouped onto their own layer – a layer that is not filled. If these items have been drawn in AutoCAD with a zero width line (which is the usual case), then you need to specify to us a line width to use. Again, this is on a layer by layer basis so if you needed the draw width/line of the target to be different to the linewidth of the text, they would have to go on separate layers. In this design, we are going to assume the same linewidth.

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Stage 2: Split the layers

Take each group of outer items and move them to their own layer. In the design below, the outer rectangle has its own layer, the text and targets are placed on a 2nd layer, the inner boundary is placed on a 3rd layer. The device boundary makes up the 4th layer, the device itself makes the 5th layer, and the final layer is made up of the inner holes in the circuitry pads.

Stage 3: Annotate the polarity and the fill status

Once the layers have been split, it’s then just a simple task of assigning the layer order, the layer polarity, and the fill status of the layer. Here is how the layers are built...

1… Outer Border, Filled, DARK

2 …Targets, Linewidth 0.5, CLEAR

3 …Inner Border, Filled, CLEAR

4 …Device Border, Filled, DARK

5 …Device, Filled, CLEAR

6 …Holes, Filled, DARK

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Stage 4: The final design, put together and viewed by our engineers.

The final stage is for our engineers to put the design together, apply the properties and then create the fill patterns. This can be a complex procedure where full instructions have not been given, but the results are always checked by sending a PDF checkplot to the customer to act a final ‘proof’ before the mask is made. The checkplot will show the how the mask will appear when it is written – the data will be mirrored to reflect the view side as chosen by the customer, and the polarities will have been set to create the final Clearfield or Darkfield mask that is required (however, don’t take the quality of line edges on the PDF to represent how the mask will look, because PDF files cannot resolve these features adequately)

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Choosing Formats
There are many different formats that can be used when exporting your design. Our preferred format is ‘Gerber’ – and we can handle all types and variations of this format. If you can supply the data in this format, and the data is clean and ‘ready to use’, then the CAD setup fee will be free. Other formats have small charges associated with them, depending upon their complexity and difficulty of use. The main formats that we support are listed to the right , and are in order of preference...... • • • • • • • • • • • • • Gerber RS-274X GDSII GDS-TXT CIF DXF Zeland IE3D LASI TLC PostScript Sonnet ACIS SAT BDF Compass Layout Image Files (BMP.TIFF, PCX etc.) ASCII XY Data

Fixing Drawing Errors
Despite all of the ‘do’s and don’t’ in the guide above, we have many years experience in handling and fixing data types, and even if your design doesn’t conform fully to the guidelines, we can probably ‘work a little magic’ with the databases to fix small errors and ensure that the file is fully ready for manufacture. Some of the fixes to designs are done automatically – a quick simple click of a button can sometimes fix many thousands of drawing errors. Sometimes, however, this process can be much more complicated and take many ‘man hours’ of patience and care before the design is ready to be manufactured. Any extra work required will be quoted to you in advance of editing, and you obviously have the choice then to either give us a go ahead, or take the design back to CAD stage and see if you can fix the errors yourself personally. We will always endeavour to point out and assist with this process, and our skilled CAD engineers are always on hand to should you wish to discuss your project in more detail.

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6

Chapter

Dimensional Stability
Environmental and mechanical conditions can affect the overall size of the mask – considerably where polyester film is concerned, and to a lesser degree where Glass is concerned. The dimensions of a film photo-mask will change under the influence of 4 factors; changes in temperature, changes in humidity, mechanical tensions and ageing. Some dimensional changes are reversible, whereas others are not. The dimensions of a Glass photo-mask will only change with two of these factors; temperature and mechanical tensions, so movement due to humidity is avoided. Because humidity is probably the hardest of these 4 factors to control adequately – and also has the biggest influence on dimensional changes – Glass photomasks would always be the recommended product if you need to control the accuracy of the mask to critical dimensions. Film is made up of a polyester base with a thin layer of gelatine on its surface. Both the polyester and the gelatine absorb moisture from the air. The more water they absorb the more they swell (size increases). Equally , as they dry out they shrink. The moisture content of the film will gradually adjust to the moisture content of the air (known as Relative Humidity RH). RH represents the amount of water that air can hold as a percentage at that particular temperature before condensation appears. Glass and film will also dimensionally change with temperature – however, this is probably the easiest of the 4 factors to control, and one that in relative terms differs very little from one part of a production environment to another. Even in a normal office environment, it’s rare that conditions drop below 15deg or raise above 27deg, so a 6 degree swing is the most that we would expect in normal conditions. However, humidity can swing massively by upto 30-40% without even being noticed. Hence, glass ‘is king’ when it comes to dimensional changes. (There are also differences in stability between the different glasses. Soda Lime, whilst being more than 10 times better than polyester film, still has a long way to go to beat the tight low CT of Quartz.)

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Dimensional Factors
Dimensional changes caused by fluctuations in Temperature

Material Soda Lime Glass photo-masks Quartz Gelatine Polyester photo-masks Diazo
Table 2 - thermal expansions of different materials

CT in µm/m °C 9 0.05 18 18 18

Most materials expand with increasing temperatures, and film and glass masks are no exception to that rule. The dimensions of all masks in use today change with changing temperatures. The expansion is determined by CT, the thermal expansion coefficient. CT is a basic characteristic of a material; it is expressed in µm per metre per degree Centigrade and shown in the above table 2. Polyester based film masks change rather fast when the temperature changes. The time constant for temperature changes (the time needed to reach 2/3 of the total change) is a few minutes. Glass masks have a much larger time constant due to their higher thermal mass. A polyester based mask will reach its new size in about ten minutes when the film is exposed to the environment from both sides
Dimensional changes caused by fluctuations in Humidity

Polyester film absorbs water and thus expands with increasing relative humidity. The expansion is determined by the CRH ( relative humidity expansion coefficient). CRH is expressed in um per metre per % change in relative humidity. If the CRH of a material is 1, one metre of that material will expand 1um when the relative humidity increases by 1 %. Likewise the material will shrink as the relative humidity decreases. Silver halide film masks react in a more complex way to changes in relative humidity. The dimensional change is partly caused by the influence of the gelatines and partly by the influence of the polyester. Remember, humidity only affects our polyester film masks, and not our glass based masks. The gelatines on the film base have a time period for relative humidity changes of only tenths of a second: they act like a sponge. They absorb and desorb much water and do so extremely fast. However, the polyester base has a time period for relative humidity changes of several hours: it absorbs or desorbs only a little water and does so very slowly. Please note: Humidity distribution in a room is rarely homogenous – that is, it can change from area to area, and from corner to corner. It is vital if you are trying to control the humidity environment to ensure that air flow is constant throughout the WHOLE room.

Material Glass photo-masks Polyester Gelatine Silver halide photo-masks on a 175 µm PET base Diazo
Table 3 - humidity expansions of different materials

CRH in µm/m % 0 8 Approx. 100 Approx. 11 9

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Dimensional changes caused by mechanical tensions

Any film mask will expand to a certain extent under the influence of mechanical tension. The expansion is determined by the elasticity modulus, which is typical of the material. If the tension does not exceed a certain value, all changes will be reversible. In general, if the mask is subject to only limited mechanical tensions, no irreversible dimensional changes will occur. However, masks do suffer from mechanical tensions induced by some contact exposure equipment and the vacuum applied in the printer. The dimensional changes will be limited when the vacuum is gently built up all over the surface of the mask. When a film is secured by a very strong vacuum ,that vacuum may hold the film, preventing it from changing size in response to changes in temperature or humidity. Although the temperature of the film changes, the size should remain constant for as long as the vacuum is applied. Once the vacuum is released, the film size will change instantly.
Dimensional changes due to ageing

The size of silver halide masks may change with ageing. Over time, there is a tendency for the film to change back to the initial size it was prior to processing. These changes can take several months, and are relatively small, but this gives another reason why it is critical to control and maintain processing conditions.

Irreversible dimensional changes.
Hysteresis is a phenomenon where irreversible dimensional changes occur with film photo-masks when the relative humidity has been below 30% or above 70%. At higher relative humidities, irreversible dimensional changes occur due to recovery. At lower relative humidities, irreversible dimensional changes occur due to relaxation. When a film is brought into an environment with a RH higher than 70%, the gelatines become so wet that they lose strength. One could say that the gelatines chains are separated by so much water that they lose contact with each other and cannot apply their influence any longer. The effect of the gelatines on the dimensional change becomes weaker, and as a result the film expands less. This loss of length increase is permanent. Even when the RH of the environment will later return to below 70 %, the film will remain shorter. This phenomenon is called recovery.

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When a film enters an environment with less than 30 % RH, the gelatines loose so much water by evaporation that the gelatine chains touch one another. Hydrogen bridges are formed between the gelatine chains and these absorb the mechanical tensions the gelatines would otherwise apply to the polyester. As a result, the effect of the gelatines on the dimensional change weakens, and the film shrinks less. This loss of shrinkage remains, even if the RH of the environment rises above 30 % again. This phenomenon is called relaxation. There is little worry with irreversible changes based on temperature. At temperatures above 60°C the polyester starts to deform. These deformations are permanent and very obvious!

Acclimatisation of masks before use
All of the photographic film that we use is manufactured by Agfa in Belgium. The film is manufactured under the same controlled conditions as we use internally in our process rooms – 21 deg C / 50% humidity. The film is further packaged in these conditions, and then when opened in our own darkrooms - it is acclimatised in the same conditions. As long as the film is then used in the very same conditions in a production environment, there will be no problems with dimensional changes due to fluctuations in temperature and /or humidity. To maintain accuracy, we also store and image our glass photo-masks in a controlled environment. Approximately 50% of the dimensional change of a silver halide mask due to fluctuations in relative humidity happens within a second. This is due to the gelatines. The remaining 50 % of the total dimensional change takes literally hours and hours. That’s why we recommend waiting for eight hours for a film to be acclimatised after a change in relative humidity. This timing is only valid when the film is exposed to the environment from both sides. Coincidentally, polyester film only takes a few minutes to equilibrate with changes in temperature.

Best practice

Prior to using the film in a mask aligner (or similar equipment), it should be acclimatised for 8 hours in an environment of 21 °C and 50 % (the standard conditions that are also applied imaging). During that time the film can get at the right conditions without any humidity exchange. When then the film has fully acclimatised, it may be used without any dimensional inaccuracies.

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Main Points
v A Film photo-mask adapts to changes in temperature within a few minutes, but changes to humidity within a few hours v Humidity of <30% or >70% will cause irreversible changes on a film mask v Temperatures of <-20deg C and > 60 deg C will cause damage to a film mask v Always acclimatise film masks in 21deg C / 50% humidity for 8 hours before using them. v A Soda Lime photo-mask will NOT change with humidity v A Soda Lime photo-mask is 2x more stable than a film photo-mask v A Quartz photo-mask will not move with temperature OR humidity

Table 4 - Showing possible deviation in Um's given a film photo-mask of 500mm length undergoing changes in Temperature and RH

Humidity %

Temp C

11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

30 -200 -191 -182 -173 -164 -155 -146 -137 -128 -119 -110 -101 -92 -83 -74 -65 -56 -47 -38 -29 -20

35 -173 -164 -155 -146 -137 -128 -119 -110 -101 -92 -83 -74 -65 -56 -47 -38 -29 -20 -11 -2 8

40 -145 -136 -127 -118 -109 -100 -91 -82 -73 -64 -55 -46 -37 -28 -19 -10 -1 8 17 26 35

45 -118 -109 -100 -91 -82 -73 -64 -55 -46 -37 -28 -19 -10 -1 9 18 27 36 45 54 63

50 -90 -81 -72 -63 -54 -45 -36 -27 -18 -9 0 9 18 27 36 45 54 63 72 81 90

55 -63 -54 -45 -36 -27 -18 -9 1 10 19 28 37 46 55 64 73 82 91 100 109 118

60 -35 -26 -17 -8 1 10 19 28 37 46 55 64 73 82 91 100 109 118 127 136 145

65 -8 2 11 20 29 38 47 56 65 74 83 92 101 110 119 128 137 146 155 164 173

70 20 29 38 47 56 65 74 83 92 101 110 119 128 137 146 155 164 173 182 191 200

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7

Chapter

Quality Control
Our Photo-Mask services are probably the most comprehensive in the world, with continued investment in the biggest, fastest and highest resolution photo-tooling equipment. No matter what the application, achieving the best possible image quality and accuracy is critical throughout the range of our services. The photo-mask affects the quality of your final product. Without excellent image quality and accuracy, you can’t operate efficiently and productively. And of course, poor accuracy will cost you money. Our photo-tools provide sharp, high-quality, accurate images that that you can depend on, time after time. To ensure we meet our quality goals, we have invested in many different types of quality control systems and equipment, certified and ratified to national standards. We operate an ISO 9001 quality system, ensuring full traceability. All systems are verified , and our dedication to the production of quality products and services is apparent throughout the organisation.

PRE Verification / Inspection
Pre-processing a design through CAD software and getting it ready for mask writing can sometimes be a complex process. If Design Rule Guides haven’t been followed exactly, there can be a number of areas that need fixing and tidying up before the mask can successfully be written. There is also sometimes quite a lot of ambiguity as to what the final design should look like – especially where there are multiple dark/clear composite layers to build. To improve the quality of the final layout of the mask, we have implemented a method of giving the customer a visual copy of the design for verification before the mask is written. When a mask design is submitted, you have the option to select a tick box on the order form called ‘PDF Checkplot”. This is a method of sending a PDF checkplot via email – where you as the customer get a WYSIWYG (What You See IS What You Get) printout showing all of the filled areas, the polarity of the mask, the parity (view side) etc. Only upon authorisation of this checkplot will we then continue to write the mask.

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POST Verification / Inspection
Once the mask has been written, we then have to inspect it for accuracy / quality / defects and flaws that can sometimes affect the final product. Customers who have very specific requirements for geometry sizes, may specify critical dimensions (CD) and the acceptable variance from that target (the tolerance). If no tolerance is given, then we work to our own default values as outlined in the tolerance section of this manual. The time taken to process (develop and etch) a mask after writing is important, because it affects the size of the geometry. The longer the processing time, the smaller the chrome geometry will be, and the larger the clear areas will be. CDs are measured using a microscope during the processing of a mask, to determine process times and to make sure that the CD size is acceptable. Once all processes are complete, and the mask has been cleaned and washed, we can offer you 3 different types of final inspection on your photo-mask. By default, the STANDARD method of inspection will always be used unless you request otherwise. We firstly inspect the piece by eye for flaws, design inaccuracies and contaminations. We also inspect a test coupon (placed in the bottom corner of the mask) for line width accuracy and edge definition. Next we measure the overall dimension of the mask, and record both of these measurements on our internal inspection records. Finally, we find the CD of the mask, measure that, record it, and also take a digital photo that is saved with the inspection log. We use Nikon MM40 at 900x magnification and an OGP ZIP 300 at 400 x magnifications for this.
Standard: Enhanced:

As well as undertaking the standard inspection process described above, we will then document them via a Certificate of Conformance which we supply with the mask. Tolerances are per our standard tolerances. By selecting this option during the ordering process, we will inspect upto 10 customer defined measurements, with customer supplied tolerances. You will need to send us a document, or a separate layer of the design, showing us where you want us to take the measurements from. There can be upto 10 positions defined by the customer. These dimensions are then programmed on the co-ordinate measuring system and the mask is compared to this unique program. A certificate of conformity is given if the mask passes the inspection process..........

Fully Certified Inspection –

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Defects
For chrome masks, the specification of the raw materials and the photo-resist, mean that there may be minor defects that appear randomly across the image. Usually these defects are cosmetic only, and sometimes the defect actually causes no working problem with the design. A defect is defined as having a size greater than the required rate, and can take many forms such as a "pinhole" in what should be the chrome/emulsion part of the mask, or it can be a chrome / emulsion spot in the clear part of the mask (also referred to as 'shorts' or 'breaks'). A defect is any flaw affecting the geometry that passes the authorised specification for the order. For film masks, the materials that we use are supplied guaranteed defect free For all types of work, the customer must indicate the size of defects that will affect their process (defect spec). All defects which break these rules must be repaired, or if they cannot be repaired, the mask must be rejected and rewritten. Where no defect spec is given by the customer, we use our own internal standards. There is also a class of defects known as cosmetic defects. These are defects that may not affect the circuitry geometry but still may not be acceptable to the customer. Cosmetic defects include scratches on the chrome outside the array, damaged or partially removed AR coating, contamination on the chrome, glass chips on the edge of the mask, etc. The Customer Defect Specification Form is to be used by customers to inform us of their defect specifications. It may be supplied to cover every order within a given time frame, or on a per order basis. If the form is not submitted, our own internal specifications take over. These specifications will be used by our front end engineers to asses if masks can be written before going into the write phase, and customers will be informed where specifications are deemed to be unachievable.

Figure 3 - Sample defect types

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Customer Defect Specification Form

None >

µm on active area; µm on inactive area;

Pin Holes

None >

Repairs allowed with epoxy Y/N None > µm on active area; µm on inactive area;

Spots

None >

Re-etch allowed Y/N None > None > µm on active area; µm on inactive area;

Clear Break

Repairs allowed with epoxy Y/N None > µm on active area; µm on inactive area;

Bridging

None >

Re-etch allowed Y/N

Clear Extensions

None >

um or % of host (whichever bigger)

Chrome Extensions

None >

um or % of host (whichever bigger)

Above is a list of what will be determined as a defect. Please mark figures in um’s in the red area, and submit to our quality control department. Active area = important areas on the mask such as critical devices, Inactive area = text, borders, non critical areas. Leave blank if these areas are of no concern.

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Ordering Your Mask

8
To the Fastest Turnaround

Chapter

Once your design is ready, the next stage is to order your mask. We aim to make the ordering process as simple as possible, with straightforward steps along the way that can quickly and efficiently process your design and ship the mask back to you in the fastest possible time. Our Photo Mask dept specialises in very high resolution imaging onto films and plates, at resolutions of upto 128'000 dpi. Our maskwriter is one of the highest resolution raster imagers available in the world! The direct write laser imager uses state-of-the-art technology to create a high resolution image, projected through reduction lenses onto the sensitised media. The mask writer is highly calibrated and has a granite bed for accuracy and stability.
From the Smallest Features

Features as small as 2 microns are achievable depending upon the geometry, making this technology suitable for Strain Gauges, Encoders, Hybrid or Microwave Circuits, Microfluidics etc
To the Biggest Films.

Because these images are relatively quick to image (compared to normal photo-litho or ebeam plotters) we can achieve a next day delivery if required urgently.
To Standard Production Issue Tools.

Our flatbed large format photoplotter is built on a granite bed which ensures accurate and stable films time after time. Films are available upto 3m long

Production ready photo-tools are where we began, and are still an important part of our service. Ideal for a back-up service to cope with breakdowns, or a full daily service to work in hand with your tooling departments.

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6 Steps to Ordering

Check the design carefully. Dependant upon which CAD system you use to design your photo-mask, the CAD layout is the one stage that causes the most delays in manufacturing. Designs are often rushed and poorly laid out, and ‘design intent’ is often not passed onto our CAD team, meaning that designs can become ambiguous and sometimes even impossible to work out. Avoid delays by ensuring that the design is manufacturable – please read the ‘Design Rule Guides’ along with the Specifications & Tolerances, and check them carefully alongside your CAD layout and mask requirements. When you are sure that the design is manufacturable, move onto the next stage !

Check price on the calculator. We have a calculator on our website that gives you the price of the mask dependant upon the criteria that you select. Choose from film or chrome substrates, and then select from the different sizes and resolutions required. As you select fields on the calculator, more sections will become visible up until you reach the final calculation fields. Simply hit ‘calculate’ to get a price. Feel free to change certain parameters and re-calculate the price of the mask. For ease of use, you can select currencies in £uk sterling, $ US dollars or E Euros. When you are ready, move onto the next stage which is quoting.

You can now click the ‘send quote’ button on the form. A new form will appear, where you fill out your details and also include a reference name for the mask. If possible, please use this same reference when ordering to make it easier for us to match the quote price to the mask. The formatted quote will be automatically sent direct to you. We also receive a copy of the quote at the same time, so can help you later if you have any queries regarding the price or specification.
Get a Quote !

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Once you have received the quote and are happy with the price, you can select the ‘buy now’ button on the calculator to be taken straight to the mask order page (you are also welcome to navigate to it directly from any of the links on the website). This form is the heart of our job-entry process. It gives us all of the relevant information to begin the manufacturing process, and we strongly recommend you use it as part of the ordering process. Please see the section on the order form in this chapter for further information. This is normally done at the same time as the Order Form is submitted. Once submitted, you are taken to a second page on the form where you can attach a pre-compressed file (such as ZIP, TAR, ARC etc). We always recommend that any design files, no matter how small, are compressed (or zipped) together. This is the best method for sending data to us because it offers a quicker transfer, a protection against data corruption, a secure folder and at the same time allows you to compress together multiple files in one. Typical compression programs include PKZIp, WinZIp, 7zip etc. If you are unsure about this compression method, please contact our technical support. If your file is bigger than 25mb when compressed (i.e. a VERY big file) then we suggest sending it by FTP. Details on this can be found in the links on the order form. Along with the design file, please include any other documentation that may be relevant to the mask order – such as purchase orders or inspection requirements. We would also welcome a copy of the quotation PDF (if you received one in step 3) to help speed up the booking in process.
Arrange payment. The vast majority of our customers use a Credit Account, whereby they place orders on us to manufacture the goods, and we then invoice the masks when the masks are dispatched. The customer then has a pre-defined period (normally 30 days) to pay the invoice. Whenever this method is being used, the order MUST be accompanied by an official ‘purchase order’ from your company or organisation. This is the official acknowledgement that your organisation is ordering the goods. Where preferred, we can also take credit card payments for the order. Upon submission of the Mask order Form, you will be asked whether you are paying on account or by credit card, and you will then be taken to the relevant section of the website. Upload the design.

Use the Mask Order From.

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The Order Form
The majority of our customers order their mask on line using our special “Mask Order Form” which can be found on our website www.jdphoto.co.uk This mask form answers all of the usual questions, specifies tolerances, type, inspection, delivery etc and the form feeds directly into our process controls – giving you up-to-date information and keeping you informed of the current production stage of the mask. Using the on-line form is the surest way of submitting an order to us.

–This is the file name for the design that you are sending us. If you do not have a name, please enter NONE and give reasons in the NOTES field
CAD File Name

– the parity of the mask, or which side the design has been created from. Has your design been created looking AT the chrome/emulsion side of the mask, or are you looking THROUGH the substrate to the back of the design?
View Side Data Type –

the CAD format of the data that you are sending.

– any reference name or number by which you recognise the layer or mask. This is important for multi mask orders.
Mask Details Type – Choose which

type of mask, such as Film, Soda Lime, Quartz. (see definitions for more information)

Mask Polarity – Whether it is a darkfield/Clearfield CD

– This is the Critical Dimension on the mask, which is usually the smallest feature. If the position of the CD isn’t obvious, please send a drawing or description along with the design detailing its position in order that we can inspect this feature correctly.
Mask Size –

the overall dimension and thickness of the substrate.
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– Select the resolution that you require the mask to be written at. The selections available depend upon the CD values that you may have given.
Resolution

Order Number – Enter your purchase order number, if you have one or if this is a requirement, otherwise it can be left blank (use the Notes section to give us further information)

The first checkbox here tells us that you wish us to wait for the official purchase order to arrive before we start the mask processing. The second checkbox is to ask us to send a PDF checkplot to you for confirmation and verification before we manufacture the mask. We highly recommend that you select this checkbox.
Payment – choose your preffered payment method. Remember if this order is on a 30 day account, then we will need a purchase order from most organisations before we can start manufacturing.

Before Proceeding –

– Firstly, choose which production turnaround schedule that you need for the mask. Secondly, choose which delivery schedule that you require and which method you want the mask order shipped to you.
Delivery Before Proceeding –

The first checkbox here tells us that you wish us to wait for the official purchase order to arrive before we start the mask processing. The second checkbox is to ask us to send a PDF checkplot to you for confirmation and verification before we manufacture the mask. We highly recommend that you select this checkbox.
Notes –

Please leave us as many notes about the order as possible.

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Terminology

We often get asked about the terminology that we use for selecting the mask polarity and parity – that being, is it mainly ‘black’ or ‘clear’, and is the design viewed from the chrome/emulsion side or from the glass/polyester side. These points are often confusing, especially for the novice mask designer. We refer to our masks as Clearfield / Darkfield. This is the best way to describe if a mask is Positive or Negative. For example, Clearfield means that the data you have drawn in CAD will be Black/Opaque on the mask, with the background being clear. Darkfield is obviously the opposite of this, where the items drawn on CAD will be clear and the background will be dark. You must specify this format on your order. In order for the mask to work correctly in your contact exposure system, we have to image it the right way round! We need to know which way round the mask has been designed, so please specify one of the following when ordering: Design is viewed from Chrome/Emulsion side or Design is viewed from Glass/ Polyester side.

Other factors
Schedule

Our official standard turnaround for photo-masks is 2-4 days from receipt of good clean working data. As a general guide, film masks are often turned round within 1 day, and glass masks usually take 2-3 days, but these may vary depending on current workloads. Guaranteed premium services, of either 48hrs or sameday, can be requested. A sameday service in the UK means that the mask will be shipped the same day as the order is received. We must have the order and data by 9.30am to enable us to honour this fast turnaround.

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Our 48hr service means that we will ship goods the following day of receiving the order. For this premium service, we will need orders to be with us by 11.00am. For overseas customers, please allow for time zone differences. As a general guide, we are 1hr behind Central Europe Time, 8hrs in front of US West Coast time, and 4 hours in front of US East Coast time. For the premium services to work efficiently, the data and order must be with us by the time specified and most importantly the data must be designed in accordance with our design rule guides and be ‘ready-to-go’. Most delays in production occur where data is ambiguous or wrong.

Shipping

We ship by Royal Mail registered Post in the UK, and FedEx or UPS to the USA and European EC countries. All of these services give an on-line tracking method. You will be emailed your tracking number on dispatch of the mask. We have a full on-line tracking system for your orders on our website. You will need to request a user name and password before access to this site. Our online tracking system enables you to track and progress your orders with us. This system will show all of your current and outstanding orders, along with the current status of the order and for any orders that have already been shipped, it will also give you the courier’s own airbill number, allowing you to track the delivery right to your door ! The database will also have a history of completed orders over the past 28 days. The username and password are case sensitive, and we can issue more than one set of details per customer if required. All data stored on our server is encrypted and secure, and we will only upload data to the server where a customer has opted in to this service

Orders & Payment
We can accept authorized purchase orders from Universities, Government Depts. and PLC’s (Public Limited Companies) without the need for credit accounts to be set-up. All others will need to have a credit account set up before we ship goods. This credit account will take 5 days to register from the date of the first order. All subsequent orders can then be taken on account. Alternatively, we accept most major credit/debit cards that will speed up the processing of the first order. We have 3 different methods for arranging to pay for your order. Most customers use a credit account facility - you order the goods, and we invoice you when the goods are dispatched. This invoice must then be paid within a specific pre-arranged period (which is normally by the end of the following month).

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We also have many customers that pay us directly via our secure payment site when ordering goods. This is sometimes a preferred method due to the fact that there is less paperwork involved - for example, if you choose to use a credit account then each order must be accompanied by an authorised Purchase Order from your purchasing department. In the past we have found that some purchasing departments can take many days - or even weeks- to raise a purchase order, so by using the secure payment site you avoid these delays. The third option is to send a cheque with the order. Some companies prefer to operate this way because it helps them with the budgets and finances.

CREDIT ACCOUNTS

Before we can issue you a credit account, we must have received at least one payment from you by cheque previously. This is a stipulation enforced on us by our credit underwriters, because a company cheque proves firstly that the company exists, that it has a bank account, and that it is solvent. (This procedure doesn't take effect if the purchasing authority is a government department, local council or educational establishment) If you have therefore paid us already by cheque, we can proceed to open an account. Please remember to include an authorised purchase order with each job that you send to us. v Download the Credit Application Form from the website. v Fill in the form, remembering to sign and date it, and send it back to us by post/fax/email v We apply to our credit underwriters for an account. v We will telephone you once the account is open and ready to use.

SECURE CREDIT / DEBIT CARD PAYMENTS

Most large companies and government departments prefer this method because it reduces paperwork and reduces the risk of delays to the order. Card payments also work very well with international currencies, because the rate is set the time the payment is made, therefore avoiding fluctuations in currency exchange. All of our payments by card are made OFF-LINE, which means that it's a human that makes the transaction and not a robot. This helps to reduce any inconveniences. To pay by this method, please follow the following instructions. v Receive a confirmation of the price, or a quote, before you make the payment. Either the engineer working on your order can provide this, or you can request the amount from our accounts department. It would help if you could quote us our job number direct. v Goto the secure payment site, and enter the payment details and the amount. v You will receive by email a confirmation of payment. Our secure payment server will send us the encrypted details and we will then process the card payment off-line.

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PAYMENT VIA CHEQUE

Quite often we find that start-up companies and newer organisations prefer to pay by cheque, which has many advantages when it comes to budgeting and finance planning (you only spend what you've got!). We also request that we receive a payment by cheque before we issue credit accounts to companies. If possible, place a copy of the purchase order, or pro-forma invoice, or a job number with the cheque which will help us to match the money to the goods. Please post all cheque's to:Photo Data Photodata House, Knowl Piece, Hitchin, Herts, SG4 0TY United Kingdom

Invoicing

We invoice at the same time as shipping, by default in UK £ sterling although we can also invoice in dollars $ US or Euros € Eu. We can also accept payments in all three of these currencies. These payments can be made by cheque or by direct payment into the relevant currency account. If you intend to pay by either US$ or Euro’s, please contact jo.daniel@jdphoto.co.uk for the agreed amount after currency conversion. We expect payment of invoices within 30 days of the end of the invoice month. Bank account details feature at the bottom of each invoice.

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9

Chapter

Handling, Cleaning, Storage
Once you’ve received your mask, you need to keep it in the best possible condition to allow you to continue to use it successfully over its entire lifetime. For longevity of the product, you need to know how to handle, clean and also store the mask – and any of these 3 important procedures that are not followed carefully can have a detriment on the product quality. Obviously, there are different methods used depending upon whether the mask you purchased was Glass based of Film based.
Cleanrooms – best practise reduces contamination.

• • • • • • • • • •

Film Rollers can be used to remove dry, unattached particles of contamination from a production process to increase yield and improve quality. Exterior packages should conform to a certain clean standard to be admitted to the cleanroom. Avoid shedding materials such as paper, or cardboard boxes. Use intermediate containers to transport materials to cleanroom, such as plastic containers. Decontaminate larger items in a preparation room before entering clean area. Material transportation equipment should conform to the same cleanroom standard. Equipment should not generate contaminants – such as rust, and should not interfere with filtered air flow and/or cause turbulence. Surfaces should be easy to clean. (e.g. smooth, glossy, no crevices) Perform maintenance outside the clean environment when possible. Use trained maintenance personnel with awareness of cleanroom requirements.

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Handling the mask
Glass Photo-Masks

It may seem obvious, but glass can break – so it’s important that the glass masks are handled correctly at all times. Don’t drop the mask – don’t place it on uneven surfaces – be careful when applying strong vacuums to the mask - and be especially careful if the mask has been custom cut , because the edges can be very sharp indeed ! Although the glass (and equally quartz) substrates are fairly robust compared to film, the surface itself can still be damaged through improper handling, especially when bought into surface contact with rough or abrasive surfaces. The chrome side of the mask is generally much more robust and stands up very well to knocks and scratches. • • • • For wet handling, use only appropriate rubber or similar gloves, such as nitrile disposable gloves. Dispose of the gloves after each use. For dry handling, use only clean approved cotton gloves. Handle masks using the extremities of the Glass. I.e. either bottom left with top right or bottom right with top left. Grip using (at least) a finger and thumb combination.

Film Photo-Masks

Film photo-masks are more delicate than their glass counterparts, and have to be treated with the utmost care when handling. Although the surface of the film has a matting and anti-stress protection layer, these are only microns thick and even the smallest abrasion can result in damage to the image side of the film. Wherever possible, always handle the film only by its edges. This is the safest way to ensure that contaminates are not passed onto the central image part of the film – it’s best to use just the fingertips of both hands, and it goes without saying that clean/dry cotton gloves should be used at all times. Films are best moved from room to room by using flat boxes or trays. However, if you have to move or carry film with one hand, then we suggest using the “3-point grip”. Gently bend the film in half and hold it in a "3-point grip" between thumb and middle finger, with index finger in the center to keep the film surfaces separated. Exercise care when removing films from packaging during setup, and then carrying films from worktables to work stations. Always give yourself plenty or workspace to place the film, and ensure that gloves are always worn (and jewelry is always removed!)

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Cleaning the masks
Glass Photo-Masks

The benefit of using a glass based photomask is that they are much easier to clean – the glass and chrome surface can be treated with a variety of chemicals, with no detriment to the image or surface quality. The method used for cleaning the mask will depend upon the contaminates that are present –light soiling with greasy fingerprints could probably be removed with a simple alcohol wipe, whereas more stubborn contaminates that have been picked up from the mask contact/exposure process may have to follow a more rigorous procedure detailed here.

Pour enough acetone in a dish to cover the mask Soak chrome mask for 5 minutes in the solution

Use a lintless, soft, absorbent, nonscratching cotton pad Scrub the front and back of the mask with appropriate swabs

Rinse the mask with methanol Dry the mask using a nitrogen air gun / canister.

Film Photo-Masks

Cleaning film photo-masks is a much more delicate process, and care has to be taken not to damage or scratch the soft emulsion Start by using a Film Rollers. These can be used to remove dry, unattached particles of contamination from a production process to increase yield and improve quality. The rollers are readily available from many PCB supplier outlets around the world, and come with an adhesive pad that traps the contaminates after use. These systems can be used on a regular basis , and are an excellent method for improving cleanliness throughout the process. Once the mask has been clean rolled, the next stage is to use a liquid contaminate cleaner (if required). For cleaning fluids, it is best to use Isopropyl Alcohol (91%) or Heptane. Never use water, which will soften the gelatine, making it vulnerable to scratching. Important: When using Isopropyl Alcohol, 91% or higher is preferred because 70% is too "wet" and contains too much water. Water will swell the emulsion, making it even softer and more prone to damage.

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For clean wipes, always use a lintless, soft, absorbent, non-scratching cotton pad, such as Webril™ Hand-Pads (or equivalent). Since cotton materials may leave fibers behind, a (more expensive) alternative is a 100% knitted polyester photo wipe. Apply cleaner to cleaning wipe - squirt an approved cleaning fluid onto wipe – but do not dip the wipe into the cleaner, it should not be oversaturated (an oversaturated wipe should be squeezed and air dried until suitably damp for the wiping operation). Wipe the film in a single top-to-bottom direction, working from one side of the film to the other. Note: Do not wipe the film in a "scrubbing" motion (circular or back-and-forth). A particle of dirt can be picked up and embedded in the wipe. This can cause severe scratching if wiping in a circular motion. Turn and refold the wipe frequently to expose a fresh surface and to bury any particles that may have been picked up. Change wipes often - a single wipe should be dampened only once and discarded after cleaning an area no larger than 10 times its size.

Storage of the masks
Glass Photo-Masks

We ship the masks in plastic cases, which are sometimes referred to as ‘compacts’. These cases provide secure environments for our glass photo-masks, and they have specially designed features which include: high impact strength, stackable design, easy open and close, and excellent access for insertion or removal of masks. They are made out of a transparent polypropylene, and are clean room manufactured and packaged. We recommend that you keep the mask secured within the case at all times, except when you need to use the product in manufacturing .

Film Photo-Masks

It goes without saying that the packaging must protect against knocks, contaminates and if possible, extreme environmental conditions. Photo-Mask films are ‘double bagged and taped’ – that is to say that they are placed inside one polyethylene bag and taped along the open edge, then fed inside another plastic bag and again taped and folded along the edge. This double bagging method gives the best protection against contaminates and such. Try to store the film in its original bag. ( do not use cardboard boxes) and carefully package and films and plates when delivering them to the exposure rooms. Importantly, film plots must be flat (vertically or horizontally).... not rolled or bent. This is because the polyester base is a thermoplastic material which in time flows and adopts new Shapes
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10
Other services and products
Photo-Tooling
The photo-tooling service provided by Photo Data and JD Photo-Tools is the largest in Europe, and perhaps the world. Since 1969, it has developed from a simple plotting and photography business, into a full engineering support service to manufacturers throughout the US, Europe and the UK. Taking this role very seriously, the group is constantly exploring new ways to develop and utilize new processes which enhance their service. Developing custom built software not only speeds up the engineering process, but also provides much needed manufacturing rules and continuity. By constant investment in the latest imaging technology and front-end software, we have maintained our edge at the forefront of imaging technology. We have 5 photo plotters installed. Our main imager is a Barco Silverwriter, which can handle films up to 30" x 24", with a resolution up to 20,000 dpi. Minimum features of 25 microns are attainable, but high resolution plotting with features down to 2 microns is available if required via our photo-mask department. Photoplotting is where the service began and it is still where the service meets many of its toughest demands. Data arrives at all times of the day and night - this data must be processed fast and efficiently, accurate films produced, and delivered to the door of the manufacturer promptly and with minimum fuss. We offer a very fast and flexible service for all customers, with late cut-off times and early morning deliveries. Imaging from Plot Ready data is welcomed, but we also welcome full tooling of data prior to plotting. All films are fully inspected and bagged separately prior to dispatch, which will usually be carried out within a couple of hours of receipt of data, with even faster services available for more urgent work ! .

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PCB Tooling

Our tooling services are an integral part of our plotting procedures. During the tooling process, we can add Robber bars / Thieving bars, tooling targets, venting, etch coupons, as well as making sure the simple things are correct such as Pos/Neg polarity, Emulsion surface, profile , DRC, layer identification, date codes etc.. This tooling can be written into scripts used by our GerbTool CAM software, enabling a fast and repeatable process. We can also edit, manipulate and optimise various drill and rout formats.
DXF / AutoCAD Plotting

We specialize in plotting from AutoCAD systems, and can handle many forms of data and plot them at high resolution. Files may be supplied in either AutoCAD or DXF for us to process, or preferably you may supply other suitable formats such as Postscript or HPGL. Our expertise can help clean drawings up prior to plotting, ensuring true polyline joins and fills. This service is available for front panels, PCB's, microwave circuits, chips etc... We also specialize in plotting from GDSii stream data, allowing us easy interface with the semiconductor industries.
CAD Translations

We are able to post process from many different CAD systems and formats. This is available as a service, with a charge per file, or we can supply the software for you to process yourself in-house. CAD formats supported include DXF, DWG, EasyPC, Boardmaker, Cadstar, Vutrax, Protel, Orcad, Allegro, PCB Turbo , GDSii, EGS, IGES etc
Postscript Plotting

We can plot directly from generic Postscript files directly to our plotter, giving very accurate images with fine features, ideal from pages created on desk top publishers. Plotting may be single or even full colour separations, and we can image upto 128,000 dpi or films upto 3m long, making it ideal for graphic applications... As well as postscript, we can also take many PC graphic formats such as bmp, tiff, pcx, gif, jpg , Corel draw etc

Large Format Tooling

Our Large Format photoplotter is the only one of its kind in the world, and has the largest bed in Europe! Films can be manufactured upto 3m long by 1m wide (120” x 39”). With the emphasis on accuracy and repeatability, we also custom built a dark room area not only to accommodate the new plotter, but to cut and store the large sheets of film required for this service. Each roll of film is cut mechanically to the required sizes, it is then stored for at least two weeks to stabilise the film. With temperature and humidity control as a dark room standard, we can hold tolerances not seen before on such large films. Our attention to detail continues with handling and packaging of each film, which has enabled successful exports to customers all over Europe, America and more recently Australia. Ever mindful of the customers' needs, we've taken this new requirement and built a service that is unique!

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Scanning / Reverse Engineering

We can scan and engineer your projects directly back into your chosen CAD formats. All we need to supply you with a customized quotation is a copy of your project – quotations are returned by email/fax within a few minutes of their request. If you have a specific request, the service bureau can place your design on grid, make revisions to silk-screens, verify tolerance levels, compare actual PCB's against GERBER images or contrast different design revisions. We have many tools available to us, so please ask if you have specific requirements. Quality Assurance is important to us –it’s the number one priority of our Service Bureau. That's why each job processed by our service technicians undergoes a detailed quality check ("QC")

procedure.

Secure your databases! An added security feature of our Service Bureau is that complete copies of all jobs processed are stored on-site for a minimum of five years. If a disk is accidentally erased or misplaced, for a small fee our technicians will immediately send you another copy of your completed job together with all documentation Most scans from films and artworks are done at 1000 dpi. In cases where we need a colour scan for reference from a finished PCB, then we may scan at 400dpi due to file size limitations (Colour scans may create files up to 500 mb in size). 2000 dpi is only used in rare occasions where very thin lines are needed.
Resolutions: 400, 1000, 2000 dpi Mediums: Pos

Films, Neg Films, Diazos, Pen plots, Artworks, PCB’s, Paper Prints. These are in order of preference. Formats other than Pos Films will incur some set-up charges. The actual positional accuracy of the scanner is +- 0.002” overall. We use a glass master grid to calibrate the scanner every 12 hours.
Accuracy Inspection Procedure

v Once a Gerber file has been created from the raster data, we first of all run OVERPLACEMENT CHECK (usually at MEDIUM resolution of 0.004") This will look for any raster data that hasn't got Gerber data on top of it, and also any Gerber data that hasn't got raster data underneath it. v Then we run a VERTEX JOIN and VERTEX CHECK- this extends any track that touches a pad and makes it snap to the centre of the pad. v Then we run OVERPLACEMENT CHECK. This is the same as our first check, but we set a tolerance to look for smaller items (up to 0.002" where design constraints allow). v Then we run SPACING CHECK which runs a basic space check. We select a gap to look for depending on the type of board and the smallest track size. (We normally check these at 0.010") v Finally, after the whole job is finished, we do a TEST PLOT on our photoplotter and physically overlay a film plot against the master, and these are inspected by eye.
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CAD Data Preparation

Our Data Prep service is primarily aimed at PCB manufacturing or designers, but we can generally turn our hand to most CAD skills. Our normal service allows us to take raw PCB data and analyse and optimise the data, making a complete tooling package that is ready to hand over straight to the shop floor. Whether you use us for one-off difficult jobs or as part of a service when your capacity is reduced, or as a dedicated front-end department catering for all of your tooling needs - we are always on hand to provide a quick, efficient and accurate service. Typical tasks when prepping PCB data includes Design Rule Checks (DRC), Netlist Analysis, Design 4 Manufacture (D4M) tests, Panalisation, Optimization, NC Drilling, NC Tooling, test Data etc. If you are a PCB assembly house, then we can go one step further and produce the optimised SMD centroid/assembly file, and even process the screens and paste layer stencils to match. Lighten the load on your front-end department - give us a call to discuss your requirements today

CAD Conversions

Our CAD Conversion Service provides a surprisingly low-cost, highly accurate conversion. Files are converted by hand to your chosen formats based on the exact standards you provide. Project deadlines are always too close – so smart project managers use our CAD Conversion Services to get all the converted CAD files as soon as the project starts. If your project deadline is staring you in the face right now, we have the resources necessary to push your drawings through the line fast! Simply email the instructions along with your data files, and we will return the converted files to you according to your requirements. An added security feature of our Service Bureau is that complete copies of all jobs processed are stored on-site for a minimum of five years. If a disk is accidentally erased or misplaced, for a small fee our technicians will immediately send you another copy of your completed job together with all documentation.

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Appendix

Company Structure

i

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Contacts & Details

JD Photo-Tools Meridian Centre King Street, Oldham OL8 1EZ

Photo Data Ltd Photodata House Knowl Piece Hitchin Herts SG4 0TY Tel: Fax: Email: Web: Skype:

+44 (0) 161 627 2949 +44 (0) 161 620 0764 sales@jdphoto.co.uk Web: www.jdphoto.co.uk Skype: jdphoto

Tel: Fax: Email:

+44 (0) 1462 452616 +44 (0) 1462 422830 sales@photodata.co.uk www.photodata.com jophotodata

COMPANY REG NO VAT REG NO ACCOUNT NAME:

3133579 665 7889 62 Photodata Test Services Ltd

£ GBP ACCOUNT Account No Sort Code Iban BIC Address 48104876 60-08-46 GB85 NWBK 600846 48104876 NWBKGB2L Royal Bank of Scotland Elmwood CS Centre PO Box 138 Feltham Middlesex TW13 7QY

€ Euro ACCOUNT 20009429 60-11-10 GB51 NWBK 607205 20009429 NWBKGB2L National Westminster Bank 12 High Street Hitchin Herts. SG5 1YY

$ Dollar ACCOUNT 20009410 60-11-10 GB35 NWBK 607301 20009410 NWBKGB2L National Westminster Bank 12 High Street Hitchin Herts. SG5 1YY

Admin ….........…............. Jo Daniel Purchase Ledger…… … Nicola Freund Credit Control …............ Debbie Morris

jo@photodata.com nicola@photodata.com debbiem@photodata.com

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Environmental Policy
JD Photo-Tools & Photo Data's primary manufacturing function is to manufacture photo-masks and photo-plots to meet customer specification. Our main raw materials are photographic films, photographic plates and associated processing chemistry. The company is aware of the potential impact our activities can have on the surrounding environment and is committed to implementing the actions stated in this policy. This policy has been developed as a result of a review of the practices conducted at the Meridian Centre, King St, Oldham. The Policy has been established with the help of Oldham Groundwork Trust, who have completed a full and comprehensive Green Start Revue which will help to target specific areas of environmental policy. The company: Will set clear objectives and targets based on the company’s activities and current environmental performance. Is committed to the prevention of pollution through monitoring of operations, the use of risk assessment, training and action planning. Will keep abreast of changes in legislation and regulations through membership to relevant trade associations and Groundwork Business Environment Association. Will monitor and regularly review environmental performance with the aim of achieving continuous improvement. Will minimising the environmental impacts of our processes and activities. Will incorporating environmental issues into everyday running of the company at all levels. The company’s current focus is: To reduce waste generation through improvement in production efficiency and the recovery and recycling of materials. To increase utilities efficiency, particularly energy use.

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Privacy Policy
Photodata wants to take your privacy seriously when visiting our website or dealing with our company on a daily basis. We recognize that when you visit the site and provide Photodata with personal information, you trust that we will act responsibly and keep your information secure and confidential.
Personal Information

We do not collect personal information about you unless you voluntarily provide it. The information that may be retained includes your name, company, email or telephone number, and address, and may also include any requests or questions that you may ask. We also naturally retain all information relating to any orders that you may place on our website. The information will be collected when you register to our site, use email links, or submit forms. We do not disclose information about individual visits to our web site or any other personal information that you may give us to any third parties. We will never sell or pass on your information to anyone outside of our organisation!
Live Support.

Part of our 'Live Support' system allows us to see which domains are visiting our site at any time, and provides us with their domain names, geographical location and other browser information. We may also collect domain information as part of our analysis of the use of this site. This data enables us to become more familiar with which customers visit our site, their paths through the site, and areas of the site they visit most often. Periodically, where our live support operators feel suitable, we may contact you directly to offer support or help whilst visiting the webpage. Any conversations that are entered into will be recorded and copies will be emailed to both the sales team at Photodata and also the visitor. We never record voice conversations.
Cookies

Some pages on this site may use or may use in the future "cookies," which are small files that the site places on your hard drive for identification purposes. Some of these cookies are totally voluntary, and require you to 'opt in' to them, whereas others run in background. These files may be used for site registration and customise the next time you visit us. You should note that cookies cannot read data from your hard drive. Your web browser may allow you to be notified when you are receiving a cookie, giving you the choice to accept it or not. By not accepting cookies, some pages may not fully function and you may not be able to access certain information on this site. PhotoData’s website may provide automatic links (hyperlinks) to other third party websites for your convenience. We are not responsible for the content of these sites. When you use links to other websites our Privacy Policy no longer applies and you should refer to the privacy statement of the website you are currently accessing.

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Returns Policy
Returns

Please notify us immediately if you suspect any product is faulty. You may phone us to tell us, but it must also be made in writing within 14 days. Email is an acceptable form of written notification, but always get a read receipt. We must always receive the goods back before we can issue a credit. We will cover the costs of returning the goods to us, as long as these costs are reasonable. Most of our packages should ship for less than £20. If the cost of retuning the goods to us is more than £20, please phone for advice first.
Replacements

We will choose to replace goods free of charge, or rework goods, where we believe that the goods were faulty. We will need to have the goods back with us for inspection before we can do this. We may be able to replace goods before we receive the originals back, but we will not credit the first goods until it has been inspected. If you ask for a replacement before we receive the original, and upon inspection it arises that the goods were supplied not faulty, then you will have to pay for BOTH sets of goods.
Liabilities

Although every possible care and attention is given to our goods, all work supplied by Photo Data and/or JD Photo-Tools must be thoroughly inspected before use. You must not use our goods without inspecting them and checking their suitability. Use of our goods deems that you have inspected them, and have found them suitable. Photo Data, JD Photo-Tools , or any of its employees/contractors/owners or otherwise, shall NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL OR INCIDENTAL LOSS OR DAMAGE RESULTING FROM THE USE OF OUR WORK OR SERVICES. In certain circumstances where extreme negligence has occurred, and without accepting any liability whatsoever unless a full report has been undertaken, a credit may be given as the discretion of the management to cover the costs of unforeseen handling and/or rework by the customer. This credit shall not exceed 5 times the original price of the job for Photoplotting, 3 times the original cost of the job for film Photo-masks, or 2 times the original cost of the job for scanning and/or glass Photomasks

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Appendix

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Glossary
AR - abbreviation for anti-reflective coating. AR Chrome - A Chrome photo-mask plate with an Anti-Reflective coating deposited on the reflective chrome metal to minimize reflections in the Ultra-Violet range of the spectrum. It minimizes standing wave effects and reflections between two substrates during contact printing. array - the arrangement of dies into rows and columns on a photo-mask. One or more arrays may be required on a mask. e.g. in the case of a semiconductor photo-mask the circuit may be the major array, a test device may be a minor array and alignment targets may be another array of patterns. The array usually is as large as possible to cover the substrate that the mask will be printed to in order to maximize yield. artwork - A mask design that displays the finished mask layers, usually as a CAD file autoCAD -- A computer aided design software tool use to create the mask patterns of a mask set. blank (pattern) - a pattern, containing no circuitry, used to clear out a specified window area. blank (material) - the substrate (quartz or glass) coated with chrome, AR and resist used to make a photo-mask. CAD - Computer Aided Design Calma - GDSII -- This is a photo-mask design system format that has used in the industry for many years. Many new design software programs model after this system and still have the capability of outputting Calma Stream or GDSII data. C.D. - see critical dimension chrome - The most popular metallization used for photo glass plates. Chrome metal is usually sputtered onto a glass substrate . Chrome metal was chosen as a medium that was easy to deposit with good adherence to glass, and durability when used by the customer in the process. clear - areas on the mask where the chrome has been removed and there is only glass. clear field - the background area surrounding the component geometry is clear. compact – plastic containers in which photo-masks are stored and shipped. contact print - A replica of a Master Photo-mask Tooling.. When masks are used in contact on wafers they become damaged. Many mask users order a set of mask tooling and then have copies made over time to cut the cost of their masks. critical dimension - Most images of circuit patterns have critical dimensions. One dimension (usually the smallest and most vulnerable to the process) is specified to be the most critical. The size is specified with a tolerance or variance when the mask is ordered and this image is the single pattern to be measured and documented normally unless extended inspection services have been ordered. dark field - the background area surrounding the component geometry is chrome (dark). data base -- The original data that a mask is designed and generated from. defects - Mask pattern irregularities that cause the customers process to produce bad parts. e.g. opaque spots in clear areas, torn geometries, clear holes in opaque patterns ,etc.. die - a single complete integrated circuit device image.

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die-to-database inspection - an automated inspection for data discrepancies. The equipment compares the image on the mask to a database image and identifies any discrepancies between the two. This inspection can also detect defects. develop - part of the write process, a chemical treatment of the mask to remove exposed resist . device - part number/name assigned by the designer to identify the integrated circuit. e-beam (syn. Mebes) - a lithography system which uses an electron beam to expose the resist on a photo-mask blank. etch - part of the write process which removes the chrome and AR in the areas where the exposed resist was removed during develop. emulsion - A relatively soft silver halide photographic medium on glass or film that is used to make photo-masks fiducials - patterns, located outside of the array, used to align different layers to one another during wafer fabrication. field tone - the appearance (dark or clear) of the background area surrounding the component geometry. film - The plastic sub or base material used to support photographic emulsions. The most popular film thickness in the industry is 0.007 mils. Films are still widely used to image PC boards and are typically written on laser photoplotters. geometry - intended pattern or image on the photo-mask. gerber - A photoplotting tool data type that is used primarily to pattern a photoplotted film mask. Gerber data is our standard format for photo-masks. glass - The substrate medium most widely used in high resolution photo-masks. The most popular types of glass used are Soda Lime (high thermal expansion) and Quartz ,Fused Silica (lowest thermal expansion) image - The working geometry or pattern of a mask. (this is usually the digitized data) Images may be dark or clear. iron oxide - An orange, see- through material used as a photo-mask medium on any type of glass. This material is actinically opaque with an optical density of about 2.0-2.5 O.D. to ultra violet light which is typically used to expose photoresist. This material is popular when it is require to see through the opaque areas of a mask for bettern alignment. latent image - an exposed image that has not been developed and is not visible. layer - one of a series of overlaying photo-masks (or photo-mask images) which make up a device. lithography (syn. write) - exposure and processing to engrave the desired circuit images onto a photo-mask blank. mask - see photo-mask negative - A process or mask type that results with its use to change to field of the image to the opposite of the original. e.g. a negative process will turn clear images into opaque (dark) images. nominal - This term relates primarily to Critical Dimensions. The Nominal size of an image is the ideal size and there usually is a tolerance +- range specified as an acceptable variance. optical density - This is a measurement of opacity of a mask medium. A certain optical density may be required to hold back light with various light sources. Common optical densities used in the photo-mask industry are 2.5 - 4.0 , whereby 4.0 is considered opaque to conventional light sources. The tool used to measure O.D. is a densitometer. Most Chrome photo blank suppliers have an O.D. of 3.0 as a standard. parity - whether an image is right reading or wrong reading (mirror image). photoplot - A mask patterned by a photoplotter, usually on film. photo-mask (syn. mask, plate) - a substrate with a design of opaque patterns which is to be used to withhold light during its use. It will mask out selected area of light during the patterning of other substrates. Photo-masks can be made on glass or film substrates. The opaque patterns can be made of chrome, chrome oxide iron oxide, emulsion. plate - see photo-mask polarity - the field tone, see clear field and dark field. primary (primary pattern, primary die) - the design that will be used to make the main circuit. process - the steps (develop, etch, strip) following the exposure of the image onto the mask.

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registration - the positioning of patterns on a layer to a design grid, or to corresponding patterns on other layers within the same device. (sometimes called metrology). resist (syn. photoresist) - a thin photosensitive or electron sensitive material used both in the manufacturing of photomasks and wafer fabrication for exposing design images onto a substrate. reticule - a photo-mask with patterns that are stepped (repeated side by side) onto the wafer. right reading - see parity semiconductor - a material whose ability to conduct electrical current can be alter, for example silicon. The term semiconductor is sometimes used synonymous with IC. step and repeat (stepping) - the repetitive exposing of a single image in different specified places on the wafer. stepper - a lithography tool used to project the images from a reticule onto a silicon wafer. stepping - see step and repeat substrate - the underlying material. For masks substrate refers to a photo-mask blank, for an IC it refers to a silicon wafer. test (test pattern) - simplified functional device (of the same process type as the primary die) used for process control and monitoring during wafer fabrication and sometimes to test new design ideas. wafer - a thin slice of silicon, the substrate used in producing integrated circuits (ICs). wafer fab - the clean room manufacturing area where wafers are processed to produce integrated circuits (ICs). write - see lithography wrong reading - see parity

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Quick Reference
Glass Photo-Masks
Sizes Available Substrates Coating Resolutions Minimum Feature / CD Standard Service Smallest – 3” x 3” x 0.060” Largest – 20” x 20” x 0.197” Soda Lime, Quartz Chrome 64,000 dpi 128,000 dpi

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On Special Request Upto 36” x 24” Borosilicate, Low Expansion Photographic Emulsion, Aluminium, Iron Oxide, ITO 32,000 dpi 1.5um 2.5um

Emulsion Photo-Masks
Sizes Available Substrates Resolutions Minimum Feature / CD

Standard Smallest – 10” x 12” x 0.007” Largest – 36” x 24” x 0.007” Polyester 16,000 dpi 32,000 dpi 64,000 dpi 128,000 dpi 10um

On Request Upto 118” x 39” Soda Lime Glass 2000, 4000, 8000 dpi 5um

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Resolutions
Low – 16,000 dpi Medium – 32,000 dpi High – 64,000 dpi Super High – 128,000 dpi High – 64,000 dpi Super High – 128,000 dpi

Material Polyester Film Polyester Film Polyester Film Polyester Film Chrome on Glass Chrome on Glass

Tolerance UM +6 / -5 +3.3 / -2.8 +1.8 / -1.6 +1.5 / -1.3 +1.4 / -1.4 +0.5 / -0.5

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