November 16, 2001 — GILBERT, AZ — Single Crystal Technologies has introduced new technology that it says will dramatically increase output yields of crystals such as Calcium Fluoride (CaF2), which are crucial to making next-generation chips.
Today’s crystal growers only achieve at best about 5 percent yields of CaF2, making it very expensive to produce significant numbers of usable crystals. Increased yields will enable semiconductor makers to pack their designs into chips less than half the size of current mass-produced chips.
“The semiconductor industry is at a pivotal moment in its history,” says Ken Schroeder, president and COO of SCT. “SCT technology will impact the course of semiconductor development in major ways by providing a revolutionary crystal growth method and material purification processes at this critical evolutionary juncture.”
SCT made its announcement after solidifying patent coverage of core enabling materials technology that will bring methods of crystal growth for semiconductors into the 21st Century. The industry has reached a consensus that chips based on 157 nanometer light wavelengths will be needed to make next-generation chips. At 157 nanometer wavelengths, current photolithographic materials are opaque and the light can no longer pattern circuits onto silicon wafers for chips.
Optical crystals like CaF2 can create semiconductor patterns down to 0.05 microns — less than half of today’s best mass-produced 0.13-micron chips. But until now, CaF2 crystals have been prohibitively expensive to produce and not available in quantities sufficient to meet today’s market needs, much less projected peak demands as the industry completes its migration to 157nm. Alternative approaches, such as X-Ray lithography or extreme ultraviolet (EUV) light, carry very high cost of ownership, require extensive retooling of fabrication facilities, and are years away from leaving the lab.
Today’s chip technology uses crystal growth methods introduced in the late 1920’s that were never intended for heat-insulating materials such as CaF2. SCT innovations overcome this key obstacle to the industry’s agreed-upon Technology Roadmap, which calls for a shift to 157nm wavelengths using CaF2 to extend current photolithographic techniques.