SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- While companies are scrambling to boost the performance of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) exposure tools, IBM Corp. and Nikon Corp. are looking to improve the throughput for the rival next-generation lithography (NGL) technology.
In separate papers presented at the SPIE Microlithography conference here, IBM and Nikon described the latest developments of an alpha tool based on electron projection lithography (EPL) technology.
The alpha system, dubbed the Nikon EB Stepper, is a next-generation exposure tool for 0.07-micron (70 nanometer) process technologies. IBM is providing the optics for the system, while Nikon is developing the platform for the EB Stepper.
The alpha system has demonstrated resolutions of 0.035-micron with single-layer resists, said Takeshi Yamaguchi, general manager of the IC Equipment Division for Tokyo-based Nikon, in a presentation at SPIE.
The tool also has a 25- x 40-mm image field for 300-mm wafer production. But in theory, the system can only process 20 300-mm wafers an hour and 40 200-mm wafers an hour, Yamaguchi said.
The companies plan to implement a 2000-mm/reticle staging system on the tool, which will boost the throughput to 30-to-40 300-mm wafers an hour, said Hans Pfeiffer, an IBM Fellow and manager of e-beam technology for IBM Microelectronics in Hopewell Junction, N.Y.
At the same time, Nikon recently set plans to accelerate the development of the EPL technology (see Feb. 22 story ).
It plans to begin shipping an "early learning tool" by 2002, with a production unit by the fourth quarter 2004, said John Wiesner, senior vice president of engineering for Nikon's U.S. subsidiary, Nikon Precision Inc., based in Belmont, Calif.
The system was originally supposed to ship in 2005 or 2006, Wiesner said. "We've accelerated that a bit," he said.