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  • ORA Receives $1.7 Million NIST Award
May 2004
PASADENA, Calif., May 11 -- Optical software developer Optical Research Associates (ORA), of Pasadena, Calif., has received a $1.7 million Advanced Technology Program (ATP) award from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for the development of advanced lithography modeling algorithms.

The award will fund ORA's Fundamental Algorithms for Direct Metric Tolerancing and Illumination Optimization project, which will focus on overcoming technical and modeling limitations in the current generation of software used by industry to design and build semiconductor devices.

"Semiconductor manufacturers face pressure to continue trends in increased scaling of integrated circuits and faster, more efficient chip processing," said ORA in a statement.

It said its research will focus on developing "revolutionary algorithms" to help the industry meet these challenges, both for technologies under development now and for next-generation extreme ultraviolet (EUV) systems.

ORA said it will first develop direct-metric tolerancing and compensator selection for projection optics, which if successfull will allow accurate calculation of optical system performance based directly on key performance metrics during the crucial process of developing fabrication and assembly tolerances and methods, rather than on derivatives of these metrics (e.g., RMS wavefront error).

It said it will then develop algorithms for optimization of illumination systems in EUV lithography, "which will help designers collect and shape the output of EUV sources to achieve higher throughput and more uniform illumination at the surface of the wafer, which is essential to achieving commercially viable production rates in terms of wafers per hour."

ORA said its goal is to improve product throughput or yield at the chip level by 10 to 25 percent.

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