SAN JOSE, Calif. -- At the SPIE Advanced Lithography conference here, KLA-Tencor Corp. disclosed more details about its maskless lithography program.
KLA-Tencor's technology was disclosed two years ago, but little or no details have been given since that time. Its multi-beam maskless technology, dubbed Reflective Electron-Beam Lithography (Rebl), is part of a five-year, $90 million program with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa).
KLA-Tencor (San Jose) is in the first year-and-a-half in its program with Darpa. The ultimate goal is to ''demonstrate the technology'' by the end of the five-year program, said Brian Trafas, chief marketing officer at the inspection giant.
It is still unclear if KLA-Tencor will commercialize a maskless lithography system. The company may form a partnership if or when it is ready to roll out a system, he said.
KLA-Tencor is one of several companies that is developing maskless lithography. IMS, Mapper, Multibeam and others are developing maskless tools, which promises to lower the cost of ownership in lithography by eliminating the photomask in IC production.
Many maskless vendors are still struggling to devise their tools due to the complexity of the technology. KLA-Tencor claims to have the right formula.
Its multi-beam system will consist of 106 beams. The goal is to process 45-nm designs and below, he said.
Targeted throughput is 10 wafers an hour for contacts and vias and two wafers an hour for metal. ''It's a lower cost solution than EUV,'' he said, referring to extreme ultravoilet (EUV) lithography.
KLA-Tencor has demonstrated portions of the system. The proposed system consists of several elements: reflective optics, electron gun, digital pattern generator, time domain integration system, rotary stage and others.
When in operation, the electron gun fires electrons into the digital pattern generator. ''The system is similar what TI is doing with micro-mirrors,'' he said, referring to Texas Instrument Inc.'s micro-mirror technology, based on a micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) structures.