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Advanced Lithography 2020: Imec and ASML score 24nm pitch lines with EUV...

26 Feb 2020

...while Gigaphoton unveils chipmaking lasers in San Jose to power 5G revolution.

This week, at the SPIE Advanced Lithography Conference (San Jose, Ca, 23-27 February), imec, a nanotechnologies research and innovation hub, and ASML, a manufacturer of semiconductor lithography equipment, have announced a breakthrough in printing narrow 24nm pitch lines, corresponding to the dimensions of critical back-end-of-line metal layers of a 3nm technology node process.

By combining advanced imaging techniques, novel resist materials and optimized settings on ASML’s NXE:3400B system in imec’s cleanroom, the system is capable of printing lines/spaces at 24 nm pitch in a single exposure step.

This imaging performance enables imec’s ecosystem of resist and patterning partners to utilize the NXE:3400B as a platform for early material development for future process nodes that will be enabled by ASML’s next-gen EUV system, which will first ship in 2022. The EXE:5000 will have a numerical aperture of 0.55, much higher than the 0.33 limit of current EUV systems like NXE:3400B.

Steven Scheer, VP Advanced Patterning Process and Materials at imec, commented, “The innovation of imec and ASML in printing 24 nm pitch line spaces will provide the imec patterning ecosystem with the opportunity to test resist materials and provide process capabilities. The development of sensitive and stable resist materials will support the introduction of ASML’s next-gen EXE:5000 system.”

The NXE:3400B allows illumination of the mask under high incident angles. Under standard illumination the EUV mask tends to distort the wafer image under these high incident angles, creating poor resist profiles.

The imec-ASML teams have together devised an innovative way to compensate for unwanted image distortion. In combination with illumination optimization, this has enabled the teams to print a pitch as small as 24nm in a single EUV exposure step with a minimum exposure dose of 34mJ/cm2.

300mm wafer high-NA lithography

ASML’s NXE:3400B was installed in imec’s 300mm cleanroom in Leuven, Belgium, in mid-2019, and is now said to be "an important part of imec’s R&D activities". Additionally, the first 300 mm wafer high-NA lithography is anticipated this October using another key enabler, imec’s attosecond analytical and interference lithography lab.

The AttoLab is critical to explore the molecular dynamics, at an attosecond scale, during exposure of photoresist to EUV ionizing radiation and, using interference lithography, it offers the first 300mm high-NA resist imaging capability to print features down to pitches of 8nm.

The AttoLab will improve the fundamental understanding of 0.55NA resist imaging, and, complementary to the NXE:3400B, further supports the supplier ecosystem to accelerate the development of high-NA compatible materials before the introduction of ASML’s High NA EXE:5000.

Gigaphoton unveils new lasers for 5G revolution

Gigaphoton, based in Oyama, Japan, a manufacturer of lasers specified for semiconductor lithography, has announced that it will add two new models to its ArF and KrF product lineups in 2020. The ArF immersion GT66A and the KrF G60K light sources offer enhanced specifications to semiconductor manufacturers.

With an increase in semiconductor applications expected, due to rapidly emerging IoT and AI business growth, chips will be required to support faster communication speeds and data processing capabilities.

In its launch statement this week, coinciding with the company’s exhibiting SPIE’s Advanced Lithography 2020 expo, taking place in San Jose, Ca, through February 27th, Gigaphoton notes:

“In 2020, 5G mobile communication services become available for general consumer use, meaning sub-10-nm node compact, high speed, and low power consumption logic ICs as well as higher-capacity memory chips for storing rapidly increasing amounts of data will be required.”

The GT66A ArF immersion laser is equipped with a newly-developed optical module to reduce spatial coherence and improve beam uniformity on the exposed surface. The G60K KrF light source has undergone a full model change for the first time in about 15 years. Its power output has been increased by a factor of 1.5x compared to the preceding model with the introduction of a new power supply unit.

Katsumi Uranaka, President & CEO, said, “The growing popularity of products and home appliances incorporating IoT capabilities, together with the addition of AI and 5G, are making it possible to view data in real-time and make equipment and devices smarter in a variety of settings including factories, medical care, automobiles, and social infrastructure.”

Further highlights from Advanced Lithography Conference 2020, produced by SPIE, is available on the SPIE website.

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