Photomask technology has been used since manufacture began of the earliest semi-conductors over 40 years ago. It was then that Compugraphics made its first photomask in Aldershot, UK. In 1970 the company moved north to Glenrothes, Scotland, to be closer to the multitude of technology companies emerging in the area that became known as “Silicon Glen”. Compugraphics has continued to expand and is today one of the most highly regarded and established Photomask names in Europe and USA. It has an experienced team of photomask professionals to rival any of its global competitors with similar sized operations in Glenrothes, Scotland and Los Gatos, California.
Photomasks are high precision plates made out of quartz or soda lime glass with a chrome layer on one side, usually containing microscopic pictures of electronic circuits etched into the chrome. Whilst the technology has advanced dramatically since the start, the principal remains the same with the photolithography process now also an integral part of the production of many MEMS and Optoelectronic devices. Customers send their design data to Compugraphics, who then write the masks using sophisticated laser and e-beam exposure tools and finish them in a Class 1 clean room environment.
With the growth in MEMs and Optoelectronic devices over the past 10 years, Compugraphics has seen its customer base expand to include these market sectors. This has presented just a few challenges. MEMS and Optical applications often use structures where smooth curves and accurate radius is critical for example. Conventional writing tools used to make photomasks are predominantly designed to write Manhattan or straight-line geometries for the IC sector.
Dave Muir, Customer Interface Manager, explained the key to Compugraphics’ success in this area :
“Our people have been trained in MEMs design to ensure a better understanding of our customers’ needs. We know what is important to ensure that their design will translate into an application that works. Our business model is unique: The MEMS market place is our market place, our best and most experienced people have been steadily working on meeting the needs of emerging markets like MEMS, not leading edge IC market needs. We have a reputation for quality, reliability and flexibility as well as a wealth of experience that can only benefit our customers.”
Compugraphics is owned by OM Group and certified to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.