Optical lithography can go to 12 nanometers at least

From the EEtimes, MIT researchers have solved issues with scanning beam interference lithography and have tested at 25 nanometers and believe they can get to 12 nanometers at least. This is a big deal because it will ensure that Moore’s law to continue to improve computers for another 15 years or more. Current lithography is in the 45-60 nanometer range and 12 nanometers is 15-25 times more dense.

Mark Schattenburg, director of the Space Nanotechnology Laboratory, and his group have done the work

Scanning-Beam Interference Lithography is being commercialized at the Plymouth Grating Laboratory (Mark Schattenburg’s company

Using our scanning beam interference lithography technique, optical lithography is mainly limited by the roughness of materials–and our ability to see such fine features.”

“In traditional interference lithography the wafer is stationary, but in scanning beam interference lithography the wafer is constantly moving,” said Schattenburg.

“We synchronize the grating image with the movement of the wafer using 100-MHz sound waves,” said Schattenburg. The sound waves vibrate the laser’s crystals, slightly shifting their frequency up and down as they recede from and approach toward, respectively, the desired feature being imaged. This compensation produces a stable, consistent grating image across the patterns being transfered to the wafer, according to the researchers.

Schattenburg has founded a lithography company called Plymouth Grating Laboratory (Plymouth, Mass.) which is currently considering the commercialization of the new lithography technique.

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