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Vol. 52, No. 2 January 28, 2000
[Sandia National Laboratories]

Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185-0165    ||   Livermore, California 94550-0969
Tonopah, Nevada; Nevada Test Site; Amarillo, Texas

EUVL retains promise for next-generation chips
Lithographers review patterning options at December SEMATECH workshop

By Nancy Garcia

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Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography (EUVL), the advanced microchip patterning technology at Sandia, was endorsed for continued development by the Sematech industrial consortium at a December workshop on lithography, the process by which designs are projected on silicon wafers.

[EUVL Test Stand]
EUVL Engineering Test Stand, due for completion at Sandia in mid-2001.

EUVL was among five technologies reviewed. About 170 attendees voted on the five options. In a shift in thinking from when the industry believed a single option must be chosen, attendees favored continued development of both EUVL and Electron Projection Lithography.

More time than foreseen

The semiconductor industry has more time than initially foreseen to pick a new method to make increasingly small feature sizes on chips, said Gerhard Gross, SEMATECH director of lithography. That¹s because the current approach, optical lithography, has been extended to feature sizes smaller than once believed possible, beyond 130 nm.

The five technologies reviewed included an extension of optical lithography called 157 nm (for the wavelength of light used to expose patterns on wafers); Electron Beam Direct-Write; Ion Beam Projection Lithography; Proximity X-ray Lithography; EUVL; and EPL. At the end of the three-day workshop Dec. 6-9, participants indicated their preferences for technologies to use at different feature sizes.

EUVL, EPL, and 157 nm optical were favored for 70 nm features; EUVL and EPL were preferred for 50 nm or 35 nm features. The feature sizes represent nodes defined by the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors.

³What we are seeing now is greater support for having two . . . technologies at the same time for different applications, such as one for DRAMS and another for ASICs,² Gross said. ³Two years ago because the costs were so great, we believed we had to choose a single technology very soon so the industry could focus its resources in one direction.² Science-Based Engineering and Technology Center 8400 Deputy Director Rick Stulen was heartened by the continued momentum in support of EUVL. The review showed progress in previously defined critical issues.

Major subsystems completed

Recently three major subsystems were completed for testing, he said. An illumination system achieved 10 watts of EUV light with a laser-produced plasma. A very compact and potentially extremely affordable alternative, an advanced EUV discharge lamp, produced images proving its feasibility. Processing defects, introduced on masks used to reflect patterns, were reduced to less than .01 per square centimeter.

In Albuquerque, motion control was demonstrated for stages that are aligned during multiple exposures. Projection optics were aligned within tolerance (less than 1 nm) by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which is collaborating with Sandia. At Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory ‹ the third lab participating in the project ‹ the measurement capability of the system was demonstrated to be more precise than the distance between atoms, better than .25 nm.

Test stand due for completion

An EUVL Engineering Test Stand, which semiconductor toolmakers can study as they develop potential commercial tools, is due for completion at Sandia in mid 2001. It will permit full-field EUVL exposures, incorporating advances from the three labs. They are collaborating as a Virtual National Laboratory with the EUV Limited Liability Corp., an industrial consortium that includes Intel, AMD, and Motorola. A three-year, $250 million cooperative research and development agreement between the VNL and EUV/LLC, begun in 1997, is being extended at no cost for two more years.

The Next Generation Lithography workshop is sponsored by SEMATECH to help develop consensus and guide the consortium¹s funding support for specific technologies. More than 170 lithographers attended from around the world.

Slightly more than half the participants were from North America; 29 percent were from Asia and 16 percent from Europe. Almost half represented chip makers; 37 percent were industry suppliers; 13 percent were from R&D enterprises and 6 percent were from government or other organizations.

SEMATECH has tentatively scheduled the next workshop for Sept. 2000.

Last modified: January 26, 2000

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