Toppan has a heritage of innovation rooted in decades of experience serving our Customers. We combine our materials knowledge and mask-making expertise with a deep understanding of lithography to establish the technologies you need to launch your new designs.
We have a long history of co-developing mask technology with our customers across the globe. In 1996, we broke the mold for photomask technology research by establishing a collaborative development model with our customers. This strategy has proven to be highly successful for our customers, and others within the industry have begun to imitate this approach.
The Reticle Technology Center LLC (RTC), founded in 1996, was the world's first photomask technology development joint venture. We formed this partnership with Motorola, AMD, and Micron Technologies to develop and produce photomasks for sub-wavelength lithography. After more than six years of successful operation, the RTC activities were absorbed into our Round Rock manufacturing facility, and a new R&D venture, the Advanced Mask Technology Center (AMTC), was started in Dresden, Germany.
Together with co-founders AMD and Infineon Technologies, we built the AMTC to continuously develop photomask technologies, starting with the 90nm node. Today, our Dresden operation runs 28nm production and is the world's largest commercial EUV photomask supplier.
In 2005, we extended our relationship with IBM to co-develop advanced photomasks. Together we've developed technologies for the 45nm, 32/28nm, and 22/20nm technology cycles, and we are currently developing the photomask technology necessary to realize the 14nm node.
Toppan continues to realize the future through our participation in industry consortia IMEC and Selete. The relentless pace of the semiconductor market requires innovative solutions, and Toppan's collaborative approach to technology development leads the photomask industry.
Toppan's history is rich with basic materials research, a culture that distinguishes us from our competition. Our US operation was originally part of E.I. DuPont, the world's premier chemical company. The US operation manufactured its own pellicles and blanks well into the 1990s. This experience is now consolidated into our commercial photoblank operation in Japan, where we continue to produce a large portion of our own photoblank materials.
Over the past decade, the EUV photomask has posed a number of fundamental materials obstacles. In Japan, our materials research group invented a tunable TaSi absorber that was deposited atop a standard EUV reflector stack. Like many other materials innovations, this work advanced our understanding of EUV lithography. In 2005, we became the first commercial supplier of EUV masks, and we continue to manufacture the worlds highest-quality commercial EUV photomasks in our Dresden and Asaka factories, shipping more EUV photomasks than any other merchant supplier.
Toppan continues to pioneer photomask materials development. For example, we faced significant materials hurdles in our 28nm immersion lithography mask program with IBM. In immersion lithography, binary photomasks offer the possibility of better printing performance than their phase-shifting counterparts. But industry-standard binary chrome absorbers do not provide the resolution performance and CD uniformity required for this technology. So we established a program with ShinEtsu Chemical Co. to develop and produce a new MoSi-based binary photoblank absorber to replace Cr. This so-called Opaque MoSi Over Glass (OMOG) material is the most advanced commercially available photomask solution for immersion lithography.
Because EUV lithography still faces cost and infrastructure issues, we've enhanced our OMOG for use at the 22/20nm technology cycle. This so-called thin OMOG has a flatter topography than standard OMOG and results in reduced electromagnetic field bias, improved wafer manufacturability, and relaxed mask pattern constraints. In particular, the relaxed mask pattern constraints increase optical proximity correction flexibility on challenging geometries such as sub-resolution assist features and corner-to-corner gaps. Thin OMOG accommodates wafer requirements for advanced double patterning and source mask optimization (SMO), further extending the capabilities of 193nm immersion lithography.
While our technology roadmap illustrates how our products will evolve in the future, our global technology program extends beyond fundamental studies into the world of manufacturing and customer service. Innovations in these arenas help us reduce waste, shorten cycle time, and deliver world class service.
We have invested heavily in our electronic backbone and IT infrastructure, connecting our factories with a continuously evolving high-speed network. This electronic web enables us to manufacture your product in the optimum photomask location, regardless of your tape-out location. Though seemingly simple, this networked, distributed manufacturing operation allows us to optimize our capital equipment expenditures while providing you with world class turn times.
We work with our suppliers to ensure their products keep pace with our needs. Our joint development programs with the leading photomask tool manufacturers include beta testing of advanced tools and continuous improvement after delivery to our factories.
One consequence of our supplier relationships has been the ability to keep photomask write times nearly flat over the last decade through 5 technology cycles, while helping you increase transistor density by a factor of 30. In another example, our collaboration with a leading etch tool supplier placed us among the first to introduce dry mask etching technology and its associated uniformity improvements. We have also pioneered advancements in mask cleaning, pellicle technology and durability testing to ensure mask longevity in the fab environment.
Beta testing agreements and joint development projects with leading tool suppliers ensure that Toppan continues to deploy the latest tool technologies. This enables us to provide our customers access to the worlds most sophisticated equipment before it is commercially available. We use this premium access to synchronize the photomask supply chain to ensure that we deliver the exact technologies you need.
In deep-sub-wavelength lithography, the exposure tool, mask, and design data must harmonize to transform your idea into reality. Resolution enhancement techniques such as OPC, OAI, PSM, and SMO combine to push k1 values below 0.35. Developing next-generation photomask technology requires an extensive knowledge of photolithography and an understanding of industry research trends. Many of our scientists and engineers are photolithography experts, and we use their experience to develop and deliver the right photomask products to you when you need them.
Customer design data is one of the key "raw materials" we use to build photomasks. We have developed significant expertise in handling and optimizing layout data. Meanwhile, as we've developed technologies to solve new photolithography challenges, both our mask and wafer lithography expertise has also scaled through the decades. It is a natural combination of these two core competencies that yields our state-of-the-art Design Services. Our turn-key OPC service is a typical example of Toppan's ability to develop synergy through combination of adjacent technologies.
The expertise generated at the leading edge of photmask manufacturing is often applicable in our other markets. Our experience with phase shifting materials can help extend the resolution limits not only for ArF and KrF wavelengths, but also for any other wavelength such as I-line and H-line. The resists and process improvements used to drive CD uniformity for the 20nm technology cycle can also drive improvements for 1X masks used in imprint lithography and contact printing. The resolution enhancement techniques initially developed to improve depth of focus for sub-wavelength CMOS are equally helpful for improving DOF for MEMs.
Our network of scientists and engineers provides our customers with the right technology when and where it is needed. Let us put our expertise to work for you.