VELDHOVEN, the Netherlands--ASML Holding NV today (November 25, 2003) forged its second alliance with a wafer track maker, announcing a deal with Tokyo Electron Ltd. (TEL).
ASML of the Netherlands and TEL of Japan announced an agreement to boost lithography-cluster productivity and process performance through joint development programs between the two companies. A litho-cluster is the linking of coater/developers and lithography systems in semiconductor manufacturing.
Analysts indicated that ASML and TEL have been working together for years in order to link ASML's lithography tools with TEL's wafer-track systems. And earlier this month, ASML and Japan's Dainippon Screen Manufacturing Co. Ltd. entered into an agreement to develop so-called 'litho-clustering' methods (see November 19 story).
Now, it appears that ASML and TEL are working much closer in developing litho-cluster systems. Under the plan, ASML and TEL will leverage their combined resources to improve imaging performance and litho-cluster productivity to 150
The companies will work in joint development programs to identify, formulate and develop solutions for litho-cluster challenges in current and next-generation lithography, including high-NA 193-nm, immersion 193-nm, and 157-nm scanners.
In early 2004, the companies will exchange tools and resources to facilitate the joint development programs. ASML and TEL will install litho-clusters in demonstration centers in Europe, Japan and the U.S.
The clusters are based on ASML's Twinscan systems and
TEL's coater/developer units, dubbed the Clean Track Lithius, Clean Track Act 12, and Clean Track Act 8. The tool exchange gives both companies the capability to use the latest scanner and coater/developer technology for litho-cluster customer demonstrations, qualification and development purposes.
ASML and TEL will have first results and demos available in the second half of 2004. "The integration of coater/developers and Lithography systems will benefit our customers who are under pressure to produce more and better chips," said Doug Dunn, president and CEO of ASML, in a statement.
Ken Sato, president and CEO of TEL, agreed. "The exchange program will enable us to quickly optimize cluster tool performance and will provide TEL and ASML with advanced demo capabilities in Europe, Japan and the U.S," he added in a statement.