A multilayer film is used as a buffer layer to minimize the size of defects on a reticle substrate prior to deposition of a reflective coating on the substrate. The multilayer buffer layer deposited intermediate the reticle substrate and the reflective coating produces a smoothing of small particles and other defects on the reticle substrate. The reduction in defect size is controlled by surface relaxation during the buffer layer growth process and by the degree of intermixing and volume contraction of the materials at the multilayer interfaces. The buffer layers are deposited at near-normal incidence via a low particulate ion beam sputtering process. The growth surface of the buffer layer may also be heated by a secondary ion source to increase the degree of intermixing and improve the mitigation of defects.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.