November 19, 2001 -Tokyo, Japan – Dainippon Screen Mfg. Co. and Kobe Steel Ltd. will jointly develop a next-generation semiconductor production machine capable of making a chip with a circuit linewidth of 70 nanometers, about half the length of currently available chips, sources close to the matter said.
The device, if developed, will enable mass production of chips useful in the broadband era. The partners hope the machine will post annual sales of about 60 billion yen in 2004, the sources said.
The companies started conducting joint research in June 2000 and have already established a basic technology for chip cleaning and drying, reported the Nikkei English News Service. They hope to produce and install a prototype at Kobe Steel’s plant in Takasago, Hyogo Prefecture, by the end of April next year, before marketing a product in 2003.
Chips with extremely narrow circuit linewidths tend to cause photoresists to adhere to silicon wafers, warping the wafers. The partners are trying to resolve this problem by using a special liquefied carbon dioxide, which has both gas and liquid properties, in the chip-drying process, the sources said.
Kobe Steel aims to nurture the product into a main revenue source, while Dainippon expects demand to further grow for smaller, high-performance chips.