By: M. David Levenson
WaferNews Technical editor
A recently announced collaboration between Applied Materials Inc., Santa Clara, CA, and Canon Inc., Tokyo, Japan, will possibly benefit the entire semiconductor industry by improving the time to market for devices, but the lithography firm hopes the agreement will specifically allow it to spot and address any tool issues that pop up – before the equipment is installed at a customer’s site.
The Dan Mayden Process Module Technology Center (PMTC) operated by Applied Materials is intended to provide more comprehensive solutions for customers in the semiconductor manufacturing business, according to Naoki Ayata, senior VP and GM, semiconductor equipment division, Canon USA. The collaboration between Applied Materials and Canon, formalized by an agreement signed on March 20, actually began in 1999, with Canon providing patterned wafers to Applied, according to Toshihiro (Tommy) Oga, national process development manager for Canon.
“Applied provided Canon with an FSI track and then Canon installed a leading-edge 248nm tool in Applied’s facility. That was one year ago. We have now essentially completed the module development for the 130nm node. Next is 100nm, which will begin with 248nm exposure, but progress to 193nm for difficult layers, such as vias,” reported Oga.
Ayata added that the first Canon 193nm tool would be installed at the PMTC in 2Q, and its technology would also be used for 70nm. Beyond that, there were multiple directions, including 157nm lithography, super advanced 193nm tools, and resolution enhancement technologies in the works. When asked whether the alliance with Applied would hurt Canon’s interactions with other potential customers, Ayata revealed a joint development agreement between Canon and TEL for 157nm lithography in which TEL provides resist coating technology at Canon’s main facility at Utsunomiya. Oga pointed out that Canon had provided the first 300mm exposure tool to International SEMATECH – a tool that is still being used. Future partnerships for Canon are in the works.
The first task at the 100nm node would be dual damascene interconnect processing, because that is what concerns the semiconductor manufacturers now, according to Oga. Both companies endeavor to talk with current and potential customers about patterning needs and the tasks for the team of Applied and Canon engineers assigned to lithography are decided in periodic meetings. Customers are welcomed to PMTC to integrate processes before taking delivery of tools.
Ray Morgan, strategic marketing manager for Canon USA, pointed out that the PMTC benefited Applied, Canon, and the semiconductor industry as a whole since the collaboration work is directly focused on helping device makers improve time to market for their devices. Oga observed that Canon hoped to use PMTC to learn what issues would arise when a new tool is installed before actually installing one at a customer’s site. “Identifying customer requirements early and solving problems ahead of delivery would give us a big advantage,” observed Ayata.
“Applied Materials has a history of bringing out great ideas early and remains committed to ensure their success. They definitely know their customers.” reported Morgan admiringly. Canon evidently hopes to learn from their collaborators as well as customers.