Sandia LabNews

Consortium honors EUVL efforts

Tech transfer consortium honors EUVL project

The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer has granted the Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography (EUVL) project an Excellency in Technology Transfer award for its next-generation technology to produce faster and more powerful microchips.

The EUVL team is made up of scientists and researchers from Sandia, Lawrence Livermore, and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories working as the Virtual National Laboratory. The team has successfully transferred the EUVL technology under a multiyear CRADA (cooperative research and development agreement) to the Extreme Ultraviolet Limited Liability Co. (EUV LLC), a consortium headed by Intel Corporation that includes chipmakers Advanced Micro Devices, IBM, Infineon, Micron Technologies, and Motorola.

Current lithography technology — which uses light, focused by lenses, to imprint features etched on a silicon chip — has advanced during the past 25 years to essentially double the number of features that can be packed onto each chip every two years. However, by 2007, the steady reduction in feature sizes possible with visible and ultraviolet-light lithography is expected to reach a physical limit, halting advances in the speed and power of microprocessors.

EUVL has been targeted by industry as the next-generation lithography approach to be introduced in 2007 for high-volume manufacturing. It uses extreme ultraviolet light with a wavelength 10 times shorter than the current wavelengths. Since the shorter wavelength is absorbed by lenses, the EUVL system must use a reflective optical system (coated mirrors) instead of transmitting lenses for the operating wavelength of 134 angstroms. Industry watchers say EUV lithography could be used for the next decade, contrasting current lithographic techniques that are typically outdated within a few years.

The first full-scale prototype EUVL machine, located at Sandia’s California site, was completed in 2001. The technology demonstrated by the prototype machine will make possible microprocessors that are 10 times faster with 10 times as many active transistors and memory chips that can store 40 times more information.

"This recognition marks another milestone in the evolution of EUVL technology," says Don Sweeney, Livermore’s EUVL program manager and director of the EUV Virtual National Laboratory. "It truly is an honor to be recognized for the successful transfer of fundamental science developed at the national laboratory level to the private sector."

The FLC award is given only to organizations that have successfully transferred a technology to a commercial company. A panel of technology transfer experts from industry, state and local government, academia, and the federal laboratory system evaluated the nominations.

The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer is a nationwide network of more than 700 federal laboratories that provides a forum to develop strategies and opportunities for linking laboratory technologies with the commercial marketplace. The FLC was organized in 1974 and formally chartered by the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986 to promote and strengthen technology transfer nationwide.