LONDON A three-year European Union funded research program has produced an imprint lithography machine for sub-50-nanometer work, and the participants in the project plan to have a stepper available in 2006 suitable for work on 300-mm diameter wafers.
Whereas leading-edge commercial optical lithography machines can cost $20 million or more each, the soft ultraviolet imprint machine developed under Europe’s Souvenir project costs less than 200,000 euros (about $245,000) in its basic version, the developers said.
Although a statement on the project said companies are not researching this field, the Souvenir process appears similar to that used by Molecular Imprints Inc. (Austin, Texas), which already offers multiple Step and Flash Imprint Lithography machines commercially.
The Souvenir tool is set to be used to produce nanotech devices in universities and research institutes, but with a plan to expand its use for pilot semiconductor production and for eventual mainstream use in the semiconductor and nanotechnology industries.
“In principle, this new technique has the potential to be used for mass manufacture by the semiconductor industry. One approach we use can already form patterns down to the 10-nanometer scale,” said Markus Bender, researcher at Applied Micro- and Optoelectronics GmbH (Aachen, Germany), and the coordinator of the three-year Souvenir project, in the statement.
The project, which also included EV Group (Scharding, Austria) and CNRS-LPN, (Marcoussis, France) had a budget of 2.3 million euros (about $2.8 million), of which it would have been normal for the European Union to pay half.
However, it will take more years of research to know whether the Souvenir project will lead to a viable next-generation lithography (NGL) tool, AMO said.