EUV Lithography Could Be Commercial 2012-2014

ASML Holding NV (Netherlands) tipped a roadmap for the introduction of its first extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines at the IMEC Technology Forum.

Martin van den Brink, executive vice president for products and technology said “EUV is the cost effective successor of 193-nm lithography below 20-nm.” and that ASML believes it can extend EUV down to sub-5nm.

The company took delivery of a new [power] source in May and is “ready to integrate a system” van den Brink said.

This will be the first example of ASML’s NXE platform of EUV lithography machines; the NXE3100 capable of between 60 and 100 wafers per hour throughput. This will have a numerical aperture of 0.25 and should be capable of 28-nm resolution, the same as is being achieved on the EUV Advanced Development Tool installed in IMEC, but at a commercial throughput.

AMD, IBM and others launched renewed effort in EUV in Feb, 2009. The companies are developing a 22-nm ”test chip,” with plans to embark on a similar program at the 15-nm node. EUV, however, is not targeted for production until the 15-nm node in 2013 or 2014.

The improved throughput is expected to come from a new light-source from Cymer Inc. (San Diego, Calif.) capable of 100-watt illumination, which typically translates to 60-wph throughput. This was shipped to IMEC in May for installation on the ADT. In the second half of 2009 a further improvement in the source should take the illumination level to 200 watts and the potential throughput to 100-wph or more, he said.

Meanwhile ASML will allow the application of a number of the techniques already developed for optical lithography, such as increasing the numerical aperture and allowing off-axis illumination to further improve the achievable resolution.

Van den Brink showed the conference a slide with the NXE 3300 and NXE 3350 addressing 22- and 16-nm resolution respectively, while the NXE 3XX0, with an NA of 0.4 would push down to 11-nm resolution. The target date for the shipment of this first preproduction machine, the NXE 3100, is Q2 2010.

Van den Brink also discussed likely introduction strategies for EUV lithography in memory fabs. He indicated that while commercial purchasing of tools would not begin before 2012 it could be delayed until 2014. However, on an economic analysis the optimum strategy for fabs was to undergo a gradual ramp of EUV lithography tool purchase and EUV production, rather than fast ramp either in 2012 or in 2014.

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