NPGS : Upgrade History
|free||High Resolution Display of Actual Exposure Points: For years, NPGS has provided a simulated display of the pattern writing for general inspection of the writing process, however, the resolution was limited by the PC monitor. Since a typical display has a resolution on the order of 1,000 pixels, the 16 bit pattern writing with a possible 65,536 exposure locations across the pattern could not accurately be shown. Now, during the simulated writing mode, the user can dynamically zoom the display at up to 256x, thus giving enough resolution to see the exact relative positions of the exposure points. Of course, increasing the zoom value decreases the display area, so every 2x multiple up to 256x is available so that the optimal resolution vs. field size can be selected by the user.|
|free||Support for 64 bit Win10: The main NPGS programs can be run under 64 bit Windows 10 when the 64 bit driver is supplied for the NPGS PCI516 or PCIe516 board. However, in a small number of cases, the communication program required for a particular microscope, stage, or accessory may not be compatible with 64 bit Windows, so details of each installation need to be checked before moving NPGS to a 64 bit version of Windows.|
Selected Elements for Array Mode: Allows user to select or deselect
individual elements in a graphical display of an Array entity where only
the selected elements will be written when the run file is processed.
Pattern Name List: Allows the user to enter a list of patterns to be written for repeats in a Pattern or Array entity. For example, instead of just writing an Array of a single pattern, the list allows a single Array entity to automatically cycle through the pattern names in the list.
Base Names: Similar to the Pattern Name List, but allows a series of patterns which have the form of a BaseName with incrementing numbers to be automatically written for repeats of a Pattern entity or for an Array entity.
|free||Support for 64 bit Win7: The main NPGS programs can be run under 64 bit Windows 7 Pro when the 64 bit driver is supplied for the NPGS PCI516 board. However, in a small number of cases, the communication program required for a particular microscope, stage, or accessory may not be compatible with 64 bit Windows, so details of each installation need to be checked before moving NPGS to a 64 bit version of Windows.|
|free||NPGS Documentation as PDF Files: All NPGS documentation is now supplied in PDF files which can easily be accessed from the main Menu program. Also, user created PDF files can also be displayed in the list which makes it easy to add customized documentation within NPGS.|
|free||DesignCAD v21.2 Support: The latest release of NPGS v9 supports DesignCAD v21.2, in addition to DesignCAD 16.2 and DesignCAD LT 2000. (Copies of DesignCAD v21.2 are available at a low cost.)|
Graphical Overview Mode: For run files that include stage moves, a
graphical overview mode will show the placement of all pattern writing fields
within the run file.
Run File Nesting: Allows run files to be nested within other run files. The maximum 'depth' of the nesting is 100. Fully compatible with the graphical overview mode.
Run File Templates: Easy to configure 'template' run files can be used to simplify the creation of new run files with standard entities. Fully compatible with run file nesting.
|free||Universal Remote Control: Most modern microscopes have a serial or Ethernet interface for control by external systems as a standard feature or available as an option. NPGS already includes support for nearly all such interfaces at no additional charge. (The NPGS interface software will also be provided at no charge when an NPGS installation is moved to a new microscope.) The new Universal Remote Control software available with NPGS now allows NPGS to control almost any Windows program on an external PC that is accessible through an Ethernet connection. This expands the control possibilities through NPGS not only to electron microscopes, but also to other systems, such as Gas Injection Systems or Windows based ion beam microscopes that do not offer an external interface. This software has been tested for communication to/from Win2k, XP, Win7, and Win10, both 32 and 64 bit when available.|
|free||Bitmap Exposures (beta): New features have been added to NPGS v9 to support the exposure of bitmap files. Bitmap files (.bmp) in the following formats are supported: 16 colors, 256 colors, and 24 bit with up to 256 colors. Bitmaps and vector writing elements can be included in the same DesignCAD pattern files when entered in different drawing layers. Also, a new 'RGB mode' which allows the exposure times to be determined based on the RGB color components of the individual pixels in the bmp file has been added. The bitmap exposures are compatible with the multiple pass writing modes listed below.|
|free||Keithley 6485 Serial Interface Support: Software is available with NPGS that can take multiple readings through a serial interface connection to a Keithley 6485 Picoammeter and enter an averaged value for use by NPGS.|
|free||DesignCAD Support: The latest release of NPGS v9 supports DesignCAD Express v16.2, in addition to DesignCAD LT 2000. (Copies of DesignCAD v16.2 are available at a low cost.)|
|free||Multiple Pass Writing Modes: Special writing modes have been added to allow user-defined multiple passes of all writing entities, including arbitrary filled polygons. Multiple pass writing can either have identical repeats or will use back-and-forth passes, as selected by the user. These modes are typically for use with FIB milling systems, but can also be used for 3D e-beam exposures.|
|free||Auto-Text: This feature has two modes. One mode allows each element of arrays created within DesignCAD to be automatically numbered. The second mode allows NPGS to generate the exposure number, array row and column number, time and/or date which can be written within patterns at run time. In all cases, the user has control over the size and dose for the auto-text, and in the runtime mode, the user can set the orientation and even modify the font. Time/Date options include: HH:MM:SS, HH:MM, MM/DD/YYYY, MM/DD/YY, DD/MM/YYYY, and DD/MM/YY formats.|
|free||PDF Manual: A copy of the NPGS v9 User's Manual in the PDF format is now included in the updates for NPGS. This format is optimized for making printed copies of the NPGS manual.|
(*credit is given for a portion of the original software purchase price)
|NPGS v9: This is a major release that now uses the NPGS PCIe516 hardware, which is based on a custom, high speed, 16 bit PCIe lithography board. One of the unique features of this board is that the timing resolution is 0.25% or better at all output speeds (to 5 MHz). Also, all NPGS code is 32 bit and runs under Windows 2000, XP, Win7, and Win10. New features include an advanced alignment mode for autoaligning to inside or outside corners of large structures, an adjustable input range for the 16 bit ADC image acquisition, an automatic feature to seamlessly update older system files, an advanced diagnostic mode, and refinements to the very thorough NPGS Installation Guide and Manual. And, of course, NPGS v9 is backwards compatible with previous versions of NPGS, so existing patterns and run files can still be used. Overall, NPGS v9 is the fastest, high resolution SEM lithography system available. (Current NPGS v8 users can send e-mail to email@example.com to obtain pricing for the NPGS v9 upgrade.)|
|free||Digital Imaging: The NPGS Digital Imaging feature now has a 32 bit Windows user interface that provides dynamic crosshairs for distance measurements, text annotations, basic image editing, and output to jpg, tif, bmp, and eps graphics formats.|
|free||Fine Tuning for Optimum Performance: Over the years, NPGS has continuously been optimized for a wide range of user applications. This has resulted in a level of customer satisfaction that is unmatched by any other system. The features listed below have resulted from close interaction with existing customers, which has made the features have sometimes subtle, but always significant, advantages over similar features offered by competing systems.|
|free||X-Y-Focus Mode: Allows NPGS to correct for focusing errors caused by a tilted sample. This mode can be fully automatic (after initialization) or fully manual, depending on the hardware configuration of the microscope. Note that most new SEMs have the hardware to take advantage of this feature in the automated mode, while all SEMs can be used in the manual mode. This standard NPGS feature can make it unnecessary to purchase an additional stage leveling device for the SEM.|
|free||Auto-Alignment: Allows NPGS to automatically align to registration marks on the sample. This feature is most useful when an automated stage is available on the system. A semi-automatic alignment mode is also included. For many applications, the NPGS alignment feature can make the purchase of an expensive high-resolution stage unnecessary.|
|free||Global Rotation Correction: Allows NPGS to make stage movements along the sample axes, rather than along the stage axes.|
|free||Array Mode: Allows NPGS to easily generate arrays of a single pattern.|
|free||CIF and GDSII Support: Allows NPGS to import pattern files saved in the CIF and GDSII formats. There is no software limit to the size of the patterns that can be imported and written.|
|free||Automated Beam Current Reading: Allows NPGS to automatically make measurements of the beam current and to compensate for drift. A variety of hardware configurations for reading the beam are supported.|
|free||Fracturing of Large Patterns: Allows NPGS to automatically break large patterns into smaller subfields for writing. This feature is most useful when an automated stage is available on the system. Unique features of this mode are that the field positions can be defined by the user and that the software can often reduce the number of pattern elements that must be broken at the subfield boundaries. No other system matches the power and flexibility of the NPGS Fracturing feature.|
|free||Support for Automated Stages: NPGS can work with almost any automated stage. Software drivers for many common stages are available at no charge.|
|free||Support for Digital Microscopes: NPGS can work with almost any digital microscope which allows remote control of the microscope parameters. Software drivers for many common digital microscopes are available at no charge.|
|free||Improvements to the Manual: The NPGS manual is updated whenever a customer reports a unique problem with their microscope or a technique that may be useful to others. This makes each new release of the NPGS manual an increasingly complete reference for SEM lithography.|
Note that other systems may claim to have several of these features, but the flexibility and ease-of-use of the features in NPGS are superior to any other system. So even if the competition offers a particular feature, closer inspection will typically reveal that it is either quite limited and simplistic or a needlessly complex version of what NPGS offers. By way of analogy: a used car salesman may promise that a car includes a radio, but after buying the car you may find that the radio only gets one station. The salesman didn't lie, but you didn't get what you expected, although the salesman did get his commission!
All of the features in NPGS are continuously fine-tuned in response to comments and suggestions from users doing a wide variety of research. This attention to customer feedback is why NPGS has become the top selling SEM lithography system based on word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied users.
*Qualified users include the original purchaser of any version of NPGS other than version 7.4B.