ASML, IMEC to take EUV lithography to high-NA

ASML, IMEC to take EUV lithography to high-NA
Technology News |
Semiconductor manufacturing equipment maker ASML Holding NV (Veldhoven, The Netherlands) and research institute IMEC (Leuven, Belgium) have agreed to extend collaboration on EUV lithography to go beyond the 3nm logic node.
By Peter Clarke


The research agreement covers both the improvement of high-volume production with current systems and the development of future EUV systems using a high numerical aperture (NA) of 0.55. The two companies plan to establish a joint high-NA EUV research lab.

Research with the current NA of 0.33 will be based on the installation of an NXE:3400B,  ASML’s most advanced and high-volume production EUV scanner in IMEC’s cleanroom at its wafer fab in Leuven.

With a 250W light source the NXE:3400B is capable of processing more than 125 wafers an hour, a throughput benchmark in commercial IC production. Other changes may include alignment and leveling sensors, to enable optimal process control and facilitate overlay matching to the immersion scanner NXT:2000i. In commercial fabs EUV lithography is used for critical layers while lower cost immersion scanners are used for the majority of wafer processing making precision alignment a key requirement.

Therefore an NXT:2000i, that will also be installed in imec’s cleanroom in 2019. ASML and IMEC will also expand cooperation on optical metrology and electon-beam metrology.

Systems with a higher NA project the EUV light onto the wafer under larger angles, improving resolution, and enabling printing of smaller features. An EXE:5000 system will be installed in the joint research lab and it will have an NA of 0.55 instead of 0.33 in current NXE:3400 EUV systems. ASML and IMEC will perform research on the manufacturing of nanoscale devices and help other equipment and material suppliers to prepare for the introduction of high-NA EUV technology.

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