July 23, 2008

Optical lithography can go to 12 nanometers at least

From the EEtimes, MIT researchers have solved issues with scanning beam interference lithography and have tested at 25 nanometers and believe they can get to 12 nanometers at least. This is a big deal because it will ensure that Moore's law to continue to improve computers for another 15 years or more. Current lithography is in the 45-60 nanometer range and 12 nanometers is 15-25 times more dense.

Mark Schattenburg, director of the Space Nanotechnology Laboratory, and his group have done the work

Scanning-Beam Interference Lithography is being commercialized at the Plymouth Grating Laboratory (Mark Schattenburg's company

Using our scanning beam interference lithography technique, optical lithography is mainly limited by the roughness of materials--and our ability to see such fine features."

"In traditional interference lithography the wafer is stationary, but in scanning beam interference lithography the wafer is constantly moving," said Schattenburg.

"We synchronize the grating image with the movement of the wafer using 100-MHz sound waves," said Schattenburg. The sound waves vibrate the laser's crystals, slightly shifting their frequency up and down as they recede from and approach toward, respectively, the desired feature being imaged. This compensation produces a stable, consistent grating image across the patterns being transfered to the wafer, according to the researchers.

Schattenburg has founded a lithography company called Plymouth Grating Laboratory (Plymouth, Mass.) which is currently considering the commercialization of the new lithography technique.


Tom Craver said...

15 years? 12nm is at most 5 doublings, and by "2 years per doubling", that's just 10 years. Two years per doubling is on the conservative side, but it's getting harder to shrink feature size.

We're pretty firmly at 45nm already, so 12nm is about 4 more generations (32, 22, 16, 12) or 8 years. We're nearly a year into 45nm CPUs, so maybe 2015 for introduction of 12nm CPUs?

So we might expect 8x to 16x more processing power, at least in the form of more processing cores.

Except heat isn't falling with transistor area any more. Maybe we'll get 4x more processing at the same power usage?

So maybe laptops will get 4x faster, typical desktops 8x faster, and super-high-end-damn-the-heat-full-speed-ahead systems maybe 16x faster (probably only for the GPU, as CPUs are focusing strongly on power efficiency).

Cooled docking stations with built-in high-end graphics will probably let lap-tops get to about half the highest performance systems...

Daniel de Fran├ža MTd2 said...


Is there any better source that describes with more accuracy this technology? The claiming that they use optical litography in 12nm is nearly unbelievable. I'd like to see something more substantive.