SAN JOSE, Calif. -- During a panel discussion at the SPIE Advanced Lithography conference here, experts debated and spared over the future of patterning.
Panelists agreed that 193-nm immersion with double-patterning appears to be current and only lithography solution available for mass production of devices at the 32- and possibly 22-nm nodes.
As expected, there was little agreement in terms of what comes next. There are still many challenges facing the so-called next-generation lithography (NGL) technologies, such as EUV, maskless, nano-imprint and even advanced double-patterning, experts said.
There is a growing pessimism over the viability of extreme ultraviolet (EUV). As reported, EUV lithography has been dogged by delays due to the lack of sources, resists and masks. EUV is now being targeted for the 16-nm node.
Even at that node, EUV remains in question--and could be on the ropes. ''Last year, (EUV) was a question of 'when.' This year, it's more of a question of 'if,' '' said Milind Weling, engineering director of signoff and silicon optimization for Cadence Design Systems Inc. (San Jose), during the panel, which was sponsored by Applied Materials Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.)
''I would echo that,'' said Burn Lin, senior director of the micropatterning division at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC). ''If you look at the papers (at SPIE), EUV is making progress.''
But looking beyond the papers and endless claims, there are still major problems and issues associated with EUV, Lin said. For example, TSMC (Hsinchu) has yet to order an EUV tool. The company's main tool supplier--ASML Holding NV--is currently selling a ''pre-production'' EUV tool, which will ship next year. EUV tool costs are estimated to be about $90 million.
''It's too expensive,'' Lin told EE Times, adding that even cash-rich TSMC is balking at the idea of paying a fortune for an R&D tool. ''We're not a research organization,'' he said. ''We're a manufacturing organization.''