| E-Pod is the latest version of our SEMI Standard single reticle pod model 99100-00, which has been tested and approved by ASML, Canon and Nikon. It has design features that address many of the known problems experienced with other reticle pod designs.
E-Pod features construction methods, materials and
support structures that are based on 20 years of experience building multi reticle cassettes, but that is where any similarity with prior reticle
handling technology ends.
This is the first single reticle pod that has been specifically
designed and constructed to provide complete electric field shielding for the reticle by making the pod itself a Faraday Cage.
It is compatible with the Entegris Clarilite™ XCDA pod purging system, which allows humidity to be removed from the reticle storage environment. Removal of humidity from the reticle surface has been proven to reduce the rate of 193nm haze formation and exposure-dependent CD degradation.
Another major hazard for a reticle in a SMIF pod is mechanical damage during pod handling. In a conventional single reticle SMIF pod the reticle is pressed down hard onto the supports to try and prevent the reticle from sliding on them, which can damage the absorber film and create particles.
However, one problem with this approach is that the harder one presses on a surface the greater is the friction at the contact point - so if movement does occur the likelihood of damage there is increased. Another problem is that the SEMI Standard defines extremely small contact points which create very high contact pressure.
For this reason we have developed a new option for E-Pod. A special mechanism operates when the pod closes, picking up the reticle and raising it off the normal support points.
The reticle is now clamped at the bevelled edges only and is held in a compliant restraint system within the pod top. It is separated from the pod base and the normal reticle support points. This means that shock or vibration during pod handling can not cause the supports to scratch the absorber film on the reticle surface.
| Although electrostatic protection has been the primary focus in the evolution of the E-Pod, it has been further developed to address all the known hazards that exist in every fab and to go further than any other pod design in addressing the risk of reticle damage and degradation by any process.
The materials and methods used in its construction have been chosen for their suitability and performance, not for low cost or ease of manufacture (e.g. for injection molding). We individually machine almost every component part, then we individually certify every pod we make. This means that the E-Pod is far from being the cheapest reticle SMIF pod on the market - it is the most expensive. However, not only is the E-Pod highly cost-effective when compared with the cost of replacing a damaged reticle and reworking or scrapping faulty product made using a damaged reticle, it will probably outlast the fab it is being used in.
E-Pod will protect many generations of reticles throughout its operational life.
And, just as with all our other products, our R&R program means that the E-Pod's operational life will be as long as the owner has a use for it.
We are confident that no other reticle pod manufacturer has such in-depth understanding of reticle protection as Microtome nor offers products that are as protective. To download copies of our technical papers please visit ResearchGate or to request a technical presentation explaining in detail how to achieve the best possible reticle protection in your fab (including when the reticle is outside the SMIF pod) please contact us.
THIS IS WHY AN ORDINARY STATIC DISSIPATIVE SMIF POD IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH:
Electric field data recorded inside a static dissipative reticle pod during normal handling, kindly provided by Estion of Germany.
Read more on this subject here.