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EUV lithography passes first test

17 Jun 2002

Researchers have successfully tested an EUV lithography source that will be the basis for next-generation chips.

Cutting Edge Optronics and Sandia National Laboratories have successfully demonstrated the first lithography using a high-power laser-produced-plasma extreme ultraviolet (EUV) light source.

EUV light at 13.4 nm can be used in the chip-making industry to print features down to 30 nm wide, or at least four times smaller than is currently possible.

The demonstration employed a laser-based light source on a system called the Engineering Test Stand (ETS) developed by Sandia, Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, collectively known as the Virtual National Laboratory.

It used a diode-pumped Nd:YAG laser at 500 W which was focused on a liquid xenon spray jet target to produce EUV light. The power output of the laser-produced plasma is thirty times greater than that of the previous EUV source on the ETS and reduced the exposure time per field from 120 s to 4 s.

This activity also demonstrated that exposures could be made in an acceptable environment for the lithography optics. The laser plasma source has operated outside the ETS with the full 1500 W output power of the laser and lithography in the ETS at this full laser power is planned for second quarter of this year.

The development of the ETS was sponsored by the Extreme Ultraviolet Limited Liability Company (EUV LLC), a consortium of semiconductor manufacturers that includes Intel, AMD, Motorola, Micron Technologies, Infineon and IBM. It aims to provide EUV research for the semiconductor industry and to accelerate the commercial development of EUV production tools by semiconductor equipment manufacturers.

Chuck Gwyn, EUV LLC program manager said: "Achieving this important milestone allows us to operate the ETS at significant power levels and provides the crucial early learning necessary to optimize the laser-produced plasma source technology for insertion into early production tools for use by the chip-making industry."

Nadya Anscombe is editor of Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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