Phabulous photomasks

ROUND ROCK, TEX.—Commercial production has begun at what is being billed as the world's most advanced semiconductor photomask production facility. DuPont Photomasks Inc.'s new Dresden, Germany campus is the keystone for the company's production of advanced photomask technologies to support semiconductor devices with design rules of 65-nm and below. A photomask is a high-purity quartz or glass plate containing precision images of integrated circuits. It is used as a "master" to optically transfer the images onto semiconductor wafers.

The Dresden facility is collocated with the Advanced Mask Technology Center, a joint venture photomask R&D center owned by Advanced Micro Devices, Infineon Technologies and DuPont Photomasks. By combining research and commercial production in the same cleanroom, DuPont says it hopes to "rapidly and seamlessly" transfer optimized photomask technologies from development to volume production.

Water watchers

VOORHEES, N.J.—Engineering and environmental consulting firm O'Brien & Gere (Syracuse, N.Y.) is subcontracting with American Water Works Research Foundation's project on "Standard Operating Procedures for Decontamination of Water Infrastructure," to measure adsorption of various contaminants to different type of water pipe, and to evaluate procedures for contamination removal.

The two-year study seeks to improve water utility procedures as it relates to potential security concerns, with the goal to develop an operating procedures guide for decontaminating water infrastructure. The study will be conducted at American Water's quality control and research lab in Belleville, Ill., which is certified to perform a variety of water quality analyses with advanced scientific and diagnostic technology.

Vocational venting

SAN JOSE, CALIF.—The new Apprenticeship Training Center, a state-of-the-art facility for sheet metal workers, includes an airflow test and balancing lab, computer-aided engineering software, and "clean room" ventilation training. The 60,000-square-foot center, co-sponsored by the Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association (SMACNA) and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) Local 104, houses five shops and nine classrooms to accommodate 400 students.

Included is a lab to provide certification in ventilation testing, adjustment and balancing, complete with a mezzanine that provides a 360-degree view of a complete ventilation system. The Center also features a working cleanroom, complete with special filters and a ventilation system designed to push air particulates away from critical manufacturing processes.

Mighty materials

AUSTIN, TEXAS—3M Electronics Solutions' Embedded Capacitor Material, which lets designers and manufacturers of high-speed digital printed circuit boards (PCB) achieve higher speeds while simplifying design, has been ramped up to volume production at the company's Cumberland, Wisc. facility, following several successful qualification programs. When used as a power-ground core in a multilayer PCB, the material becomes a decoupling capacitor inside the board, enabling faster signaling, reducing power bus noises and EMI, eliminating numerous decoupling capacitors, and saving time with power distribution design and board layout.

The Cumberland plant was chosen for its ability to produce electronics-grade products using high-precision cleanroom coating and converting processes.