LONDON – Imprint lithography firm Molecular Imprints Inc. said Thursday (Jan. 17) that one of its machines is being used by an unnamed semiconductor company to support the development of chip production on 450-mm diameter wafers. The company claimed that the availability of the machine would shorten the semiconductor industry's transition to 450-mm wafers by at least two years.
Molecular Imprints (Austin, Texas) said its Imprio 450 machine was accepted by the unnamed semiconductor company at the end of 2012. The unit is being used as part of a multi-year wafer services development contract, according to the company.
Last week, at the Industry Strategy Symposium organized by fab tool vendor trade group SEMI, Robert Bruck, a corporate vice president at Intel Corp., showed one of the first fully-patterned 450-mm diameter wafers.
The J-FIL imprint lithography technology has demonstrated 24-nm patterning with line edge roughness of less than 2-nm to 3 sigma and critical dimension uniformity to 1.2-nm 3 sigma. It offers the prospect of 10-nm patterning with single-step process.
"In an era where multi-year and multi-billion dollar optical lithography development programs are becoming the norm we were able to design, build and deliver an advanced nanoimprint platform in just one year from receiving the customer's purchase order," said Mark Melliar-Smith, CEO of Molecular Imprints, in a statement.
He added that the capabilities of the Imprio 450 were well aligned to the needs of semiconductor memory manufacturing but that the company is alos making progress towards placing J-FIL technology into high volume production of advanced CMOS devices.
The technical press would rather focus on the shiny new penny, like DSA (which I cannot imagine was involved in the production of this wafer, but is indicative of the power of the media in making something out of nothing), than on ex-shiny new pennies like imprint. While EUV (soft x-ray) and maskless (EBDW) continue to flail despite their name changes, imprint continues to make quiet progress, particularly with NVM, which is less defect sensitive. Plus the NVM market is the most elastic, thanks to SSD, and imprint is cheap. Also, imprint solved EUV's intractable source, mask, and resist problems years ago. EBDW's problems remain intractable, as they have been for some 20+ years.
According to the report below, it looks like Intel is using a 450mm tool developed by Molecular Imprints. http://450mm.com/blog/2013/01/21/a-plan-coming-together-450mm-patterned-wafers/
Here are some close up pictures of the wafer.
Congratulations to Molecular Imprints. It's good to see another nanoimprint litho company get into 450-mm. Almost two years ago EV Group, which also provides NIL systems, worked with SEMATECH to pattern a 450-mm wafer using NIL, as reported in the industry press. Yet another positive step on the road to 450-mm with this latest news.