SAN JOSE, Calif. - Nano-imprint lithography has made solid progress over the years.
''Things are really humming for us on both the technology and tool development front in the CMOS space'' and in hard disk drives, said Mark Melliar-Smith president and CEO of Molecular Imprints Inc. (MII).
In the IC world, MII has shipped tools to Toshiba and others. Toshiba is using the nano-imprint tool for R&D.
EV Group, Nanonex, Nanolithosolution, MII, Obducat, Suss are among the players in the nano-imprint lithography market.
Nano-imprint does not use expensive optics; rather, it employs a simple stamping or hot embossing process to generate features on a device. The process starts with a template or mold. An electron-beam tool then patterns select features on the template, based on a 1:1 reduction scheme. Using a nano-imprint tool--which resembles a giant stamping machine--the template is pressed against a heated, single-layer substrate, creating the tiny feature sizes.
But nano-imprint has its share of drawbacks that have kept the technology from going mainstream: low throughput, overlay issues, defectivity and others.
On the other hand, nano-imprint is making progress. At SPIE, Sematech ''showed great results for defect density of 0.09-cm(square) for the imprint specific defectivity,'' Melliar-Smith said ''Since this is below the target level set by by Toshiba of 0.1-cm(square), and defectivity was the major last major impediment for the production use of imprint, I think we are on our way to success.''
In addition, MII showed the multitude of tool platforms that have shipped in the past twelve months. One tool for CMOS, ''the 5xx, runs at 20 wafers an hour, with excellent overlay,'' he said. ''Toshiba showed their data of 10-nm'' resolution at 3 sigma in a mix-and-match to 193-nm immersion scanners.
As reported, Canon Inc. has for years watched its share of the global market for microlithography equipment decay. Now, Canon has an undisclosed relationship with nano-imprint lithography vendor MII. Melliar-Smith declined to comment on the reported deal with Canon.
Tools that can inspect templates down to 24nm exist today. Yes, they are slow and based on ebeam, but they work.
Unlike EUV where we have pinned all our hopes on a currently fictitious 100W xray source.
Molecular Imprints produces both large area and step and repeat tools. There is no such thing as "full wafer imprint" for semiconductor applications because of registration. MI has the only semiconductor imprint tool and has also sold numerous large area imprint tools to disk drive produces for bit patterned media.
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