Currently electron beam exposure systems with performance characteristics suitable for the rapid fabrication of high resolution photo master masks are coming onto the market. These machines also have the capability to write patterns directly onto silicon wafers with high accuracy and defect densities better than obtainable by optical techniques to date. Due to the high initial costs of these systems, the costs per mask at low throughput rates (< 1000 master masks per year) are high when compared to the costs of fabricating master masks by conventional optical techniques. However, at higher throughput (> 1000 master masks per year), electron beam generated masks can be fabricated more economically than by conventional techniques. Additional benefits which also have an economic impact can be derived through the use of E-beam lithographic techniques due to the fast turn around of masks, and pattern flexibility on the same substrate. Also, the very low defect densities obtained using E-Beam techniques, substantially affect the economic viability of the very large scale integrated circuits (VLSI).
B. P. Piwczyk,
"An Economic View Of Electron Beam Lithography", Proc. SPIE 0100, Developments in Semiconductor Microlithography II, (8 August 1977); doi: 10.1117/12.955362; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.955362