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Gigaphoton Develops Helium-Free Laser Purge Process

OYAMA, Japan, June 30, 2014 — Gigaphoton recently announced two advancements for lithography lasers: a helium-free purge process and a high-power laser prototype.

The helium-free purge process for argon-fluorine (ArF) immersion lasers uses nitrogen, an abundant gas the company said maintains laser performance equivalent to helium.

One laser unit consumes approximately 80-160 kl of helium per year and all the laser light sources operating worldwide consume approximately 100,000 kl of helium annually, the company said. Helium is a rare gas, amounting to 5.2 ppm by volume in the atmosphere. If current consumption levels continue unchanged, depletion of the world’s helium supply is anticipated in approximately 25 years.

In addition to the new purge process, Gigaphoton has also prototyped a 92 W laser-produced plasma (LPP) extreme ultraviolet light source, which it said is a step toward its goal of creating a 250 W source for high-volume manufacturing.

The company said the device has a 4.2 percent conversion efficiency. It generates extreme UV light by radiating tin droplets less than 20 µm in diameter with a solid-state pre-pulse laser and main pulse CO2 laser.

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