[OPTICAL REVIEW Vol. 14, No. 4 (2007) 224-230]
© 2007 The Optical Society of Japan

Matrix Projection Exposure Using an Analogue Liquid Crystal Display Panel in Place of a Reticle

Toshiyuki HORIUCHI and Ayaka OTANI*

Tokyo Denki University, 2-2 Kanda-Nishiki-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-8457, Japan

(Received January 30, 2007; Accepted April 16, 2007)

The most serious problems for the matrix projection exposure using a liquid crystal display (LCD) panel in place of a reticle are largely solved by a new breakthrough method. LCD matrix exposure is effective for small volume productions of print circuits, screen masks, micromachine parts, and other items. Since no reticles are needed, all reticle costs are saved, and turnaround times required for changing the patterns are greatly shortened. However, in the conventional method, pattern widths and positions were strictly restricted depending on the geometric size and pitch of the liquid crystal cells. In this paper, a new concept appointing the cell brightness grades continuously using an analogue interface LCD panel is proposed. Calculating the image intensity distributions for various appointments of cell brightness balances to print same wide patterns, it is clarified that the pattern widths and positions are not much different if the pattern widths are wider than 2 cell pitches of the LCD panel. Maximum width and position variations are less than ± 10% even when the patterns are printed at arbitrary positions, of course including halfway ones. The calculated results are proved by experiments using an analogue LCD panel with a cell pitch of 15 μm. Though the cell size are 13× 10 μm2, and different in x and y directions, almost same wide line-and-space patterns are successfully printed at all positions by only one exposure. It is not necessary to shift the reticle for overlapping exposures to print smooth patterns. Oblique patterns and complicated Chinese character patterns are also printed at arbitrary positions. The new breakthrough technology will make the LCD matrix exposure promising for wide uses of printing various rough patterns easily at small costs.

Key words: projection exposure, matrix exposure, reticleless exposure, analogue LCD panel, arbitrary patterning

*Present address: Seiko Instruments Inc.