A method and an apparatus to protect a reticle against particles and chemicals in an actinic EUV reticle inspection tool are presented. The method and apparatus utilizes a pair of porous metal diffusers in the form of showerheads to provide a continual flow of clean gas. The main showerhead bathes the reticle surface to be inspected in smoothly flowing, low pressure gas, isolating it from particles coming from surrounding volumes. The secondary showerhead faces away from the reticle and toward the EUV illumination and projection optics, supplying them with purge gas while at the same time creating a buffer zone that is kept free of any particle contamination originating from those optics.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
The U.S. Government has a paid-up license in this invention and the right in limited circumstances to require the patent owner to license others on reasonable terms as provided for by the terms of Contract No. DE-AC04-94AL85000 awarded by the Department of Energy.