BOSTON, March 11 -- The potential of immersion lithography to extend the semiconductor roadmap and the application of "touchless" automation to improve manufacturing productivity were topics at a SEMI New England breakfast forum held yesterday at the Renaissance Hotel in Bedford, Mass.
Michael Passow, senior manager of technology development and deployment at IBM East Fishkill, said the challenge for any new fabrication facility, or "fab," was how to reach high-volume, high-yield production "without breaking the bank."
He said the approach taken by IBM at its 300-mm fab in East Fishkill, N.Y., was to introduce so-called touchless automation. Rather than trying to develop a fab that was "paperless" or devoid of people, IBM employs fully automated systems for manufacturing and relies on human intervention only to monitor error conditions and take corrective action.
Passow cited the importance of having fab development located close to manufacturing in order to facilitate innovation and ensure seamless technology transfer. To this end, IBM East Fishkill incorporates both operations in a single building.
"We can address [technical] issues quickly and continue down the roadmap," said Passow.
The East Fishkill fab, which cost $2.5 billion, relies on sophisticated communications and control systems that consume 575 miles of Ethernet cable and use more than 1 1/2 miles of automation system overhead track. The fab's server room has more processing power than NASA uses to launch a space shuttle, according to Passow. The complexity of the operation also generates huge amounts of data, requiring 110 terabytes of storage and 1.5 terabytes of RAM.
Passow said operating a fab of this complexity would never be possible without the existence of technical standards and that standards were key to achieving future solutions.
Mordecai Rothschild from MIT's Lincoln Labs told forum delegates that the concept of using immersion to enhance resolution was not new, having been first applied in 1840 for microscopy. Although a patent for immersion lithography was issued to Hitachi in 1984, "In practice, nothing much happed until four years ago," Rothschild said.
At that time, MIT Lincoln Labs demonstrated immersion interference at 157- nanometers with a 30-nm half pitch. "Immersion lithography has caught on very quickly," he said. "Our first published results were in summer of 2001. Prior to that. there was almost no published work in a serious way."
A Sematech workshop followed in 2002, and in 2004 the industry saw the first deliveries of pre-production immersion lithography tools.
Rothschild said the the extension of immersion lithography beyond the 45-nm node will require the use of transparent fluids with a higher index of refraction than water, in addition to a redesign of the optics used in lithography systems.
The next SEMI New England Breakfast Forum will be held June 1. The topic will be "A Market Trend Update," featuring Bill McClean, president of IC Insights, and Bob Johnson, an analyst with Gartner Dataquest.
For more information, visit: www.semi.org