April 29, 2008

Future Lithography : or is Moore's Law still the law? Yes it is

Intel Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.) has decided that extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography will not be production-worthy by 2011 when Intel plans to begin manufacturing 22 nm microprocessors, said Mark Bohr, director of process architecture and integration at Intel's logic technology development group.

Intel plans to do 22 nm in 2011. EUV will not be ready for volume production in 2011. Maybe a year later, in 2012 and Intel won't wait for it. Intel intends to extend 193 nm immersion lithography with “various techniques" [computational lithography - model light and precompensate for distortions and pixelated masks - pixels or small holes build up the pattern]. Intel sees computational lithography extending immersion ArF lithography, while also pursuing EUV lithography.

Intel is continuing to develop EUV lithography, and Bohr said one encouraging trend is that “a growing number of companies see EUV as a way to get to their 22 nm technology, or maybe 16 nm. We have got to find ways to make it work.”

Intel technologists have been discussing a form of computational lithography that involves etching pixels with various shapes and slopes on what appears to be a totally transparent, chromeless piece of glass. When 193 nm light is projected, the pixelated mask creates phase-shifted patterns that could extend immersion lithography to 22 nm. With a traditional mask, the circuit pattern is carved into chrome. But a pixelated mask is little more than a collection of holes poked into a sheet of glass. Computational lithography models light as it passes through the mask, lens and resist and allows for compensation in advance by adjusting the features of the mask.

the above image is from an Intel research poster. DFM is Design for Manufacturability

For its 32 nm technology, Intel was able to use double patterning (DP) to extend immersion lithography for the critical layers, with conventional DFM techniques. At 22 nm, the source said the pixelated masks will further extend immersion without the use of extensive DP, adding that Intel believes EUV remains far too expensive for commercial production.

Substrate conformal imprint lithography (SCIL) technology that will be added to an existing equipment platform for large-area imprint applications.

This sub-50-nm patterning imprint technology is meant to bridge the gap between small rigid stamp applications for best resolution and large-area soft stamp usage with the usual limited printing resolution below 200-nm, with SCIL allowing large-area soft stamps with repeatable sub-50-nm printing capability

Nanoimprinting has made features as small as 10 nanometers Nanoimprinting can accurately stamp delicate insulating structures on advanced microchips, and, no, it doesn’t damage them, in fact it makes them better. Nanoimprint lithography can produce superior nanoporous insulator layers in advanced semiconductor devices with significantly fewer—and easier—processing steps than conventional lithography.

The latest on semiconductor lithography.

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