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The present disclosure relates to business models and methods, such as can be used with maskless photolithography systems. It is understood, however, that the following disclosure provides many different embodiments, or examples, for implementing different features of the invention in specific applications.

These embodiments are, of course, merely examples and are not intended to limit the invention from that described in the claims. The present disclosure is divided into four different sections. The first section describes an exemplary maskless photolithography system. The third section concludes by describing some of the many advantages of the methods previously discussed. The maskless photolithography system 30 includes a light source 32 , a first lenses system 34 , a mask pattern system 36 , a pattern generator 38 , and a second lenses system The system operates on a subject 42 , which is positioned on a subject stage A resist layer or other energy-sensitive coating 46 is disposed on the subject The light source 32 and the lens systems 34 , 40 may be of various types, depending on the requirements of a specific application.

Selection of such components is well known by those of ordinary skill in the art. The mask pattern system 36 may be one or more typical computers with necessary processing capability, storage, and interface, as will be discussed below.

In operation, the light source 32 provides a collimated beam of light 48 which is projected through the first lenses system 34 and onto the pattern generator The pattern generator 38 is provided with mask information via suitable signal line s 37 from the mask pattern system The mask information may represent an entire digital mask, or a portion of the digital mask, as required.

The mask information is used by the pattern generator 38 to produce a digital mask pattern for a desired duration. Light emanating from the digital mask pattern of the pattern generator 38 then passes through the second lenses system 40 and onto the subject In this manner, the digital mask pattern of the mask generator 38 is projected onto the resist coating 46 of the subject As a result, the need for fabrication of a new physical mask, as would be required in conventional photolithography systems, is thus eliminated by the photolithography system 30 of the present disclosure.

Also, changing digital masks for different exposure operations is done electronically, thereby eliminating the wear and tear associated with typical physical mask operations. As a result, substantial cost savings are realized in the manufacture of subjects which require the use of a patterning of a photo resist coated subject.

In addition, the present photolithography system 30 reduces a lead time associated with obtaining a particular mask, in addition to a reduced repair time in the event that changes to the mask become necessary after an initial design implementation. In other words, the lead time and repair time of producing a digital mask are almost negligible, as compared with conventional physical masks.

Referring now to FIG. The digital mask may, for example, be stored in a memory 38 in the form of a bit map or the like. With the use of the computer aided pattern design system 36 , any bit can be easily changed or its location moved in a particular digital mask. Also, the digital mask can be changed or aligned as needed almost instantly with the use of an appropriate instruction from the computer aided pattern design system Once created, the digital masks may also be used for the creation of a conventional printed mask, such as can be used in a conventional photolithography system.

Once the digital mask has been constructed and saved in the memory 38 , it can be provided to the display panel 38 , as shown by memory bit map In some embodiments, mask information representing only a portion of the entire mask pattern may to be delivered to the display panel As a result, the method may be used to compensate an owner or manufacturer of the system 30 for its use. Such compensation may be used in lieu of, or in addition to, the user paying a purchase price for the system.

For example, the user may purchase the system hardware, and the method may calculate software license payments for the software on a per-use basis. The method begins at step , when the user receives the photolithography system The method may be a software routine that runs on the mask pattern system 36 of FIG. Part of the initial step of receiving the system 30 may include entering a userid into the software routine to activate the method and to enable the system.

The method continues to run on the mask pattern system 36 , and may be protected from improper access by various security measures well known in the art. In the present example, the user does not purchase the system, but pays for the system based on the number of new digital masks used by the system. At step , one or more digital masks are provided. The digital masks may be created using the computer aided pattern design system 36 discussed above, or may be converted from an existing mask.

For example, conventional digital data used to create a physical mask, or to run simulations on a desired integrated circuit, can be easily converted to the digital masks used in the system At step , the software routine detects when mask information is transferred to the pattern generator In the present embodiment, the software routine specifically detects when mask information relating to a new or different digital mask is being transferred.

In this way, a single digital mask can be repeatedly used, without incurring extra expense. In addition, for embodiments that do not transfer the entire digital mask at one time, but instead send portions to the pattern generator, the different portions are not perceived as new digital masks. The method continually checks for new digital masks, and updates the charge fee counter accordingly. This may include modified masks e.

At periodic intervals, the charge fee counter is reviewed for payment. One example of a predetermined reference value is a standard market cost of a conventional, physical mask. In another embodiment, different fees apply to brand new masks, modified masks, and different masks. Table 1, below, shows one such fee arrangement.

In furtherance of the example, if a conventional, physical mask costs one hundred thousand dollars, each brand new mask used by the system 30 will accrue a charge of fifty thousand dollars, each modified mask will accrue a charge of thirty thousand dollars, and each different mask will accrue a charge of five thousand dollars. The charge fee counter may also include an indicator that identifies a resolution of the digital mask.

The above described fees may be modified for different resolution masks, which corresponds to the higher costs for conventional physical masks with high resolution. In this way, the reference value for each mask may be individually set by the corresponding cost of the alternative conventional physical mask that would provide the same resolution.

Continuing the above-described example, a conventional physical mask used for 1 micron resolution may cost twenty thousand dollars, while a conventional physical mask for 0. The methods, routines, and applications discussed above provide many advantages.

For one, the user does not have to purchase the photolithography system, which makes the user more likely to try the system. Another advantage is that the costs associated with running the system are directly related to the cost of purchasing conventional, physical masks. Therefore, the operating cost of using the digital photolithography system tracks, or follows, traditional costs. So, if the mask pattern does not change, the fees are relatively low, as it would be for a conventional photolithography system.

The presence of Ln III enhanced the reversible trans -to- cis isomerization properties of both LA and LB a little upon photoirradiation in organic solvents, and amazingly increased the fatigue resistance. In addition, the complexes doped in polymethyl methacrylate PMMA films produced a similar phenomenon as well as when in solution. Theoretical calculations based on time dependent density functional theory TD-DFT were performed for geometry optimization and to determine the excitation energies of LA and LB to gain further insight into the electronic structure of the complexes, and the data were consistent with the experimental results.

The excellent reversible photoisomerization properties of the newly designed Ln III complexes can offer important advantages that will help with the further study of these materials to reach their full potential in applications such as molecular switching devices.

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