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EUV venture receives first order

17 Sep 2002

XTREME technologies wins its first order for an extreme ultraviolet source three years ahead of its original business plan.

XTREME technologies, the joint venture between Jenoptik and Lambda Physik that is developing next-generation ultraviolet light sources, has received its first order. Exitech of the UK will use the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) source emitting at 13.5 nm to make a microstepper for advanced semiconductor lithography.

The venture did not anticipate sales of its EUV sources until 2004-5. "XTREME has demonstrated excellent technological performance and has received its first order significantly earlier than expected," said Lambda Physik's chief executive officer Dirk Basting. "This confirms we are on the right track with our investment for the future."

Exitech chairman Malcolm Gower said: "We have chosen XTREME technologies because they offer the most stable EUV light source with the highest output power worldwide." The prototype devices, which use a discharge plasma approach, are already emitting powers in the order of 10 - 20 Watts, according to Basting. The requirement for the first lithography systems is 30 - 40 Watts.

The microstepper will be used in the initial test phase of a next-generation lithography system. "The test phase starts as early as three to five years before chip production," explains Gower. "This permits early conclusions regarding optics and performance of future systems."

Excimer lasers operating at 248 nm and 197 nm are currently used to fabricate microchips, however as the feature size of chips gets smaller, shorter wavelength sources are required.

The shortest available wavelength in the excimer range, 157 nm, is due to be used in production in 2005-6 with EUV technology expected to debut in 2007. While 157 nm technology is designed for feature sizes of 50 to 70 nm, EUV technology emitting at 13.5 nm will be capable of handling features of 35 nm.

Basting believes that the source will also find interesting applications before it is used in production tools in the semiconductor industry. "It is useful in biology to identify small structures," Basting told Optics.org. "Sources such as X-rays are too intense for a biological specimen. 13.5 nm is much better suited."

Jacqueline Hewett is news reporter on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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