VELDHOVEN, the Netherlands, Dec. 13 -- One of the companies participating in a European project to improve the power output of an extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) light source for semiconductor manufacturing has announced what it says is a significant breakthrough that could lead to the making of ever-smaller integrated circuits.
More Moore is a research project funded by the European Commission to support the development of EUVL in Europe to enable chip makers to continue to meet Moore's law, which states that the computing power of semiconductors should double roughly every two years. Germany's Xtreme technologies GmbH -- created as a joint venture between Germany's Lambda Physik AG and Jenoptik Laser, Optik, Systeme GmbH -- says it has improved the power output of the EUV light source even beyond the original target of the More Moore project, to 800 W in a proof-of-principle experiment from about 120 W at the start of the project.
For EUVL to be powerful enough for volume production, the output must reach approximately 1 kW by around 2010, when EUV technology is expected to be used in the volume production of semiconductors. The commission, as part of the Information Society Technologies initiative covered by the sixth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, has provided More Moore with a grant of appoximately $27.7 million. The 36-month project began in early 2004 and is led by ASML Holding NV of the Netherlands.
The aim of companies and universities participating in the More Moore project is to resolve technical problems of EUVL so the technology can be introduced soon for volume production, as companies expect EUVL to be the next-generation technology used by the semiconductor industry to manufacture integrated circuits with ever-smaller features. Smaller features -- starting at 32 nm instead of the 65 nm common today and possibly reaching 22 nm -- allow chip makers to fit more transistors on each chip, increasing its power.
Microchips are produced with optical lithography by projecting light through a mask onto the surface of a silicon wafer that is covered by a photosensitive layer. The small structures on the mask are etched onto the silicon, creating the features of the semiconductor. EUV requires the use of a new plasma light source that is heated to 300,000 oC.
Companies from around Europe participating in the More Moore project include: Phystex, Zeiss, AMTC, Philips EUV, Focus, Sigma-C, AZ Electronic Materials, Schott Lithotec, Philips, Xenocs, Sagem Defense Securite, Imagine Optic, Eppra and Media Lario. Some universities and research institutions are also taking part. For more information, visit: https://www.euvlitho.net/MoreMoore