Extreme ultraviolet lithography prototype unveiled

Widespread use targeted for 2005, contamination control parameters will continue “to evolve”

Chris Anderson

LIVERMORE, CA—A consortium of six of the largest chip manufacturers and teams of government researchers from Sandia National Laboratories, Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley government labs unveiled the first working prototype of a groundbreaking manufacturing technique called extreme ultraviolet lithography, or EUVL.

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Targeted for beta testing in late 2003 or early 2004, the process, which uses lightwaves many times smaller than existing deep UV technology, is expected to be rolled out in wafer fabs by 2005 and continue the evolution of Moore's Law through the end of the decade. EUVL manufacturers expect to eventually produce processors with speeds of 10 GHz.

The EUV laser (left) is shown to be an effective solution for next-generation chip-making equipment. The prototype tool (right) represents the first integration of a stepper that uses EUVL to print next-generation microchips.
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The ongoing development of EUVL is the result of a unique cooperative effort between private enterprise and government researchers. Competitor companies Intel, Motorola, AMD, Micron Technology, Infineon Technologies and IBM are members of the consortium called EUV Limited Liability Co. Its purpose is to provide continued research and resources to further develop EUVL technology, with the ultimate goal of developing the manufacturing tools needed to bring the method into widespread production.

“Having competitors participating in this kind of research and development is certainly something different,” says Peter Silverman, director of lithography capital equipment development for Intel. “We think this effort can serve as a model for other technology development in our industry in the future.”

Within the next couple of years, each of the companies in the consortium will place orders for beta equipment and begin limited manufacturing. Widespread manufacturing using EUVL is targeted for 2005, or roughly the same time optical lithography techniques are forecast to reach their physical limits, according to Chuck Gwyn, program director for EUV LLC.

“EUV lithography is an improvement over existing lithography techniques by a factor of 20,” says Gwyn. “We won't get there all at once, but this is a big step forward.”

Because the light used for EUVL is invisible and absorbed by the atmosphere, the process needs to take place in a vacuum. Nevertheless, neither Gwyn nor Silverman see the new technology as stretching the capabilities of chip manufacturers.

“We see this as a natural extension of the current advances we have been making in our manufacturing processes all along,” says Silverman.

Similarly, while the linewidths produced in EUVL will be significantly smaller, the process should not overly tax existing contamination control methods currently used by wafer fabs. “We think as technology in [contamination control] advances over time that the technology will keep pace with the advances of EUV,” says Silverman.

Now, the challenge is to move ahead with the development of the tools needed to create EUV manufacturing equipment on a large scale. EUV LLC is working with lithography equipment manufacturers and has relationships with more than 40 U.S-based infrastructure companies to ensure that key components can be attained for the commercialization of the process.

In all, Silver estimated that it could cost nearly $500 million to move from the demonstration phase that was just completed to developing the tools and the infrastructure to make the process commercially available.


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