TSUKUBA, Japan & AUSTIN, Texas, Oct. 30 -- Steady advances in the development of electron projection lithography (EPL) are beginning to move the technology out of the laboratory and into locations where it can undergo preliminary testing for manufacturing, professionals learned recently at the Second International EPL Workshop, held last month at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge, England. The forum was jointly sponsored by International SEMATECH (ISMT), an Austin, Texas-based consortium of US chipmakers, and Semiconductor Leading Edge Technologies Inc. (Selete), a Japanese developer of advanced device processes under contract from 12 semiconductor device manufacturers.
More than 50 participating lithography professionals also discussed the field’s technical challenges, which include material and exposure tool issues, said ISMT.
"From masks to resists to power sources, a significant amount of progress is being made in addressing the challenges of EPL," said Walt Trybula, ISMT senior fellow and one of three workshop hosts along with Obert Wood, an ISMT assignee from AMD, and Masaki Yamabe of Selete. "Two alpha EPL exposure tools have been developed and one is being installed at Selete, where we can get a good indication of its performance capabilities."
EPL is part of a set of new technologies called next-generation lithography (NGL), which is expected to replace current optical lithography, ISMT said. In EPL, a beam of electrons passes through a silicon mask and is focused by a lens onto the surface of a wafer to define microscopic patterns. EPL is attractive, ISMT said, because of its potential to achieve extremely thin line widths well below 100 nanometers, but much work remains to develop EPL tools capable of high-volume manufacturing.
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