1986 Tau Laboratories, Inc.
In 1986 DuPont acquired Tau Laboratories, Inc., a leading photomask maker, as part of its ongoing investment in the electronics business. The following year DuPont opened a photomask manufacturing facility near Austin, Texas, and through its wholly owned subsidiary, DuPont Photomasks, began to expand photomask operations in the United States, Europe and Asia.
Photomasks are an integral part of the manufacture of semiconductors. Intricate electronic circuit patterns are etched onto quartz photomasks, which then serve as a kind of master copy for reproducing the actual circuitry onto the layered, silicon wafers that make up semiconductors.
In the 1990s rapid developments in miniaturization made photomask manufacture a highly specialized and technologically sophisticated process. Currently, semiconductor production often occurs in dimensions of less than eight millionths of an inch, and some silicon wafers are smaller than the wavelength of light used to reproduce them. In 1996 DuPont decided to boost DuPont Photomasks' business potential by spinning it off as a separate company, DuPont Photomasks, Inc. (DPMI), while retaining a controlling (72 percent) share of DPMI stock. From its beginnings with the Tau Laboratories acquisition, DuPont Photomasks, Inc., has become one of the world's leading photomask research and manufacturing companies.