EUV key technology for IC production, inspection

Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) is shaping up to be a key technology for the production of next-generation chips and for performing the inspection functions necessary to ensure the quality of those chips.

October saw significant innovations on both production and inspection functions in the EUV space, with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory developing an EUV microscope, ASML reporting milestones in its delivery of EUV lithography systems, and Imec providing enabling technology to ASML.

Berkeley Lab reported that it has partnered with colleagues at leading semiconductor manufacturers to create what it calls “the world’s most advanced extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) microscope.” Called SHARP (Semiconductor High-NA Actinic Reticle Review Project), the new microscope will help find imperfections and contaminants on photomasks. The lab reports that SHARP will outperform its eight-year-old AIT (Actinic Inspection Tool) with respect to resolution, speed, uniformity of illumination, and coherence control.

Berkeley Lab said the the $4.1 million, 1.5-year project will be led by Kenneth Goldberg of the Center for X-Ray Optics (CXRO) in Berkeley Lab’s Materials Science Division (MSD). Initially SHARP will be used in parallel with the existing AIT but will replace the aging tool by the last quarter of 2012.

On the lithography front, ASML reported that as of October it has shipped five of its NXE:3100 EUV lithography systems, with the sixth on its way. The company said that in the third quarter, the total number of wafers exposed on NXE:3100 systems nearly doubled, to more than 2,500. ASML said it expects EUV to coexist with immersion lithography systems in the short term, with the most complex chip layers fabricated with EUV and the less demanding layers with immersion technology.

For its part, Imec, the research organization based in Leuven, Belgium, announced it has successfully qualified a chipset consisting of custom high-quality EUV sensor dies, which are being integrated into ASML’s NXE:3100 EUV lithography tools already in the field to improve the tools’ overlay and critical dimension (CD) performance. This milestone achievement, Imec said, confirms that its CMORE business line is ready to provide its partners with custom specialty chip solutions.

A user of ASML equipment as well as a supplier to ASML, Imec announced in July that it had successfully printed first EUV-light wafers with an ASML NXE:3100 preproduction scanner using an XTREME technologies Laser assisted Discharge Plasma (LDP) source. Imec said the tool showed significant improvement in throughput and overlay compared to ASML’s Alpha Demo Tool (ADT).

Posted 11/7/2011 10:16 AM. Go to top of the “Rick’s Blog” main page.

Sponsored Recommendations


To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Electronic Design, create an account today!