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Photo Masking

Commonly used in photolithography, a photomask is an opaque plate with a transparent pattern that allows light to shine through. Surface defects can adversely affect this pattern.

Photomasks are commonly used in integrated circuit fabrication. They contain the pattern of the circuit, which casts a shadow onto the wafer when it is exposed to electron beams, transferring the circuit shape onto the wafer. This is a fine-resolution process, and the smallest photomask defect may render the integrated circuit useless.

One of the main issues for accurate photo masking is the issue of light diffraction on the edges of the pattern. This problem is exacerbated if there is a flaw in the photomask edge. In addition, a defective photomask may affect large batches of product, creating costly waste.

Manual inspection is unlikely to detect flaws at the required level of precision. An automated visual inspection system supported by powerful software classification is required to ensure consistent product quality. 
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