• Reticle protection IS our business…

Microtome serves all Semiconductor Fabs both production and R&D worldwide

Your premier provider of Reticle Carrier solutions

We have over 30 years of experience in the design and manufacture of reticle cassettes and SMIF pods, being the longest-established independent producer of these highly critical components. Our motto, “reticle protection IS our business,” emphasizes the fact that we do nothing else, so our full attention is devoted to providing your reticles with the ultimate protection against contamination, mechanical damage and electrostatic risk.

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Industry-Leading Reticle Protection Solutions

At Microtome, we understand the critical role that reticles play in semiconductor production. As one of the most essential and delicate components in the process, reticles can cost over $1 million and take weeks to make and qualify. It is vital to invest in high-quality reticle protection solutions to safeguard against potential damage that could result in lost production and costly reticle replacement or repair.

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About Us

Microtome is an independent, privately owned precision engineering company based in Colorado Springs. We have been specializing in the design and manufacture of reticle cassettes since 1989, and during our participation in the development of the SEMI Standards for reticle carrier, we designed the first SEMI Standard E112 compliant multi-reticle SMIF pods and cassettes, and the first SEMI Standard E111 compliant single reticle pod to be approved by all the major lithography companies.

In 2003 our independent research into reticle electrostatic damage culminated in the discovery of EFM (which stands for Electric Field induced Migration). This previously unknown form of reticle damage occurs under much lower levels of electrostatic stress than reticle ESD. With the realization that no plastic single reticle pod could ever shield the reticle from electric field sufficiently well to prevent EFM, we discontinued production of our plastic single reticle pods and undertook the development of an all-metal version which, unlike any plastic pod, provides complete Faraday cage protection for the reticle.

Shortly after the development of the all-metal single reticle pod, we collaborated with Entegris to develop a multi-reticle cassette with purging valves on the base, so the pod and its reticles could be purged with clean dry air while in storage. This was found to be a very effective way of reducing the development of photochemical haze on 193nm reticles.

In response to a request from a semiconductor facility that was experiencing an unacceptable amount of reticle damage during reticle transportation from a local mask maker to their facility and transfer of the reticles into SMIF pods ready for use, we developed a novel reticle clamping system for our all-metal single reticle pod. This patented system lifts the reticle off the standard support rails in the SMIF pod and clamps it in an elevated position, with contact only being made with the beveled edges of the reticle. This makes the SMIF pod suitable to use for short-distance reticle transport between the local mask house and the fab and eliminates the need to transfer the reticle out of a shipping carrier into a SMIF pod before it can be used. The all-metal casing of the pod also provides the ultimate electrostatic protection for the reticle while it is outside an electrostatic-controlled area.

We continually strive to offer the most protective reticle pods and cassettes on the market. Our designs, our assembly methods and the materials we use are all dedicated to achieving that end, and also allow us to create cost-effective customized developments for some of our customers. This capability has recently allowed us to develop multi-reticle pods and cassettes that achieve improved reliability when used with overhead conveyor automated reticle pod delivery systems.

Our Range of Reticle Carrier Products

We offer a range of reticle handling products, including SEMI Standard compliant and custom reticle cassettes and SMIF pods. All products are certified for top lithography equipment manufacturers. Our products support reticles ranging from 4 to 6 inches. With our extensive experience and technical expertise, we can provide design, assembly, certification, and customer support for all your reticle carrier requirements.

Protecting Against Electrostatic Damage

Preventing electrostatic damage in reticles requires an entirely different approach than is typically taken in semiconductor facilities to prevent ESD (electrostatic discharges). Our pioneering research has proven that some traditional methods of ESD control can actually increase the risk of damage in reticles rather than reducing it. We have also shown that the widely recommended practice of using static-dissipative plastic materials for reticle pods can increase the risk of EFM, which is the dominant electrostatic risk to reticles today. The solutions to these issues may be counter-intuitive to conventional electrostatics consultants, but we understand them fully, so if you are experiencing electrostatic problems with your reticles, we can help you resolve them. Please contact us for more details about our reticle-specific electrostatic consultancy service.

Industry Influence and Technical Publications

Microtome has been an influential partner in the development of the SEMI Standards for reticle handling. Our pioneering research into reticle electrostatic protection also led to the publication of SEMI Standard E163 and enhancement of the guidance on reticle electrostatic protection in the ITRS (now IRDS). We freely offer our technical publications and resources to help our customers advance their understanding of reticle protection in the semiconductor industry, because without a healthy reticle nothing can be produced. A competitive consultation service is also available on request, to help resolve any more challenging problems.

Proudly Serving And Assisting The Semiconductor Industry Worldwide

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Contact Us Today!

If you are looking for reliable, effective, and field-proven reticle carrier solutions for your semiconductor manufacturing facility, you need look no further than Microtome. We are here to assist you with all your reticle protection needs, from SEMI Standard products, through custom design and development to ongoing support and consultancy services. Invest in the best reticle protection available and safeguard your valuable reticles, because nothing can be produced without them. Contact us today to learn more about our products and services and how we can help improve the efficiency and reliability of your semiconductor production process.