This Spotlight discusses the reticle electrostatic damage (ESD) phenomenon, how it adversely affects semiconductor production, and how the problem has been traditionally addressed. It explains why reticles are uniquely sensitive to the effects of electric fields. A case is made for minimizing the risk of ESD and the corresponding yield loss by moving away from grounding (equipotential bonding), which is proven to increase the field induction risk, and the use of static dissipative plastics to construct reticle pods and boxes.
The evidence for the negative effect of equipotential bonding on reticles is incontrovertible, which demonstrates that fundamental mistakes were made when defining current reticle protection strategies. Reticles require a different approach to their electrostatic protection than electronic devices because they are uniquely sensitive to electric field and can be damaged in ways that do not affect electronic devices. This Spotlight is intended to explain this and convince those who are responsible for reticle management in semiconductor manufacturing facilities that a revision of their electrostatic protection strategy is required.