LONDON – Despite the economic calamity in Europe some governments still have good chunks of cash to back technology development.
The German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is putting 7 million euro (about $8.5 million) towards a three-year project
called ETIK to improve the optics inside extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines and help take
resolution down to 14-nm and below.
The project is led by Carl Zeiss SMT GmbH (Oberkochen, Germany), which is leading a team of seven German companies in all. If the money is spent right and the project produces results it should help maintain Europe's lead in chip lithography. Carl Zeiss optical systems are already used in the EUV lithography machines produced by ASML Holding NV (Veldhoven, The Netherlands).
The project will work on the illumination system and the projection optics. This includes mirror facets for an optical switching system and an inovative design for the surfaces of the reflection mirrors in the projection lens. Because the whole project is close to the limits of resolution work will need to be done in the fields of optical measurement, micro-cooling and precision engineering.
The mirrors are in use because it is hard to make refractive optics that work with the 13.5-nanometer wavelength illumination, so focusing is done by bouncing the light of a series of mirrors.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.