Netherlands adds DUV lithography equipment to export controls
As expected the Netherlands has fallen in line with the US by adding deep ultra violet lithography equipment to export controls in a move designed to hobble China’s ability to make advanced integrated circuits.
Liesje Schreinemacher, the Netherlands trade minister, wrote to the Dutch parliament on Wednesday announcing new measures although how much of the class of DUV lithography tools is included was not spelled out. One possibility is that all DUV litho tools are subject to export control licensing but that licenses may be granted for less advanced tools and denied for more advanced ones.
It was reported that an inter-governmental agreement between the US, Japan and The Netherlands was reached in January (see Japan, Netherlands agree to help US limit exports to China) but this is the first formal announcement of the expanded regime.
“Given the technological developments and geopolitical context, the cabinet has concluded that it is necessary for national security to expand the existing export control of specific semiconductor production equipment,” Schreinemacher wrote, according to reports.
Japan is expected to issue an update of its semiconductor manufacutring equipment policy in the next few days.
The most advanced lithography equipment, which works with extreme ultraviolet (EUV) light and for which ASML Holding NV is the monopoly supplier, has been on an export control since 2019 (see China warns Netherlands over blocked ASML export). This equipment is necessary for economic production as 7nm and to get to lower geometries and is effectively banned from being exported to China.
But the US has extended this regime with US companies operating around DUV lithography and has sought support from Japan and the Netherlands.US companies impacted include Applied Materials, Lam Research, KLA Corp. However Japanese suppliers such as Canon and Nikon and Tokyo Electron operate behind the leading-edge and lithis market leader in DUV lithography, particularly with immersion and multiple passes, is necessary for the manufacture of chips below the 28nm manufacturing node.
In a statement ASML said: “Due to these upcoming regulations, ASML will need to apply for export licenses for shipment of the most advanced immersion DUV systems.” The company added: “Although ASML has not received any additional information about the exact definition of ‘most advanced’, ASML interprets this as ‘critical immersion’ which ASML defined in our Capital Markets Day as the Twinscan NXT:2000i and subsequent immersion systems. In addition, ASML notes that customers that are primarily focused on the mature nodes are well served with less advanced immersion lithography tools.”
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Ming Nao is reported speaking against the move and saying she hoped the Netherlands would not follow other countries in abusing export control measures.
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